ANC MP apologises for ‘xenophobic’ comments

2011-07-04 07:39

ANC MP Maggie Maunye, who chairs the portfolio committee on home affairs, apologised yesterday for comments she made which “may have been construed to be xenophobic”, the ANC said.

“She realises that her remarks, which sought to underscore South Africa’s challenges pertaining to the immigration control, may have been insensitive to the plight of many foreign African nationals whose presence in this country is legitimate or a consequence of hardships in their native countries,” ANC chief whip in Parliament Mathole Motshekga said.

“Comrade Maunye deeply regrets the comments and unconditionally apologises for the harm they may have caused,” he said.

At a committee meeting on Wednesday, Maunye reportedly implied that foreigners flocking to South Africa were absorbing resources and preventing South Africans from enjoying their freedom.

The Independent Online reported that Maunye suggested foreigners should be turned away and questioned human rights law and the constitution.

“Really, this intake, for how long are we going to continue with this as South Africans?” she asked.
“Is it not going to affect our resources, the economy of the country?

“I think that as the portfolio committee, we need to sit down and discuss this openly; on how long are we going to continue with the intake without the support of other countries.”

According to the website, she said Spain turned back refugees, but South Africa did not, citing human rights laws, the constitution and “all sorts of excuses” even though its own people lived in poverty and were unemployed.

“We’ve never enjoyed our freedom as South Africans. We got it in 1994 and we had floods and floods of refugees or undocumented people in the country, and we always want to play as if no there’s nothing like that.”

She also said the “wrong people” were entering the country, giving as an example a “Rwanda war criminal person”.

“What are we saying about them? We let all these war criminals come to the country. When we are supposed to tell them to go back, we are told that we’re violating human rights laws and all that.”

Motshekga said Maunye had “carefully reflected” on her comments and recognised that her views, although not so intended, could have run counter to the letter and spirit of ANC policies.

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