Party blames government for xenophobia

2015-04-30 14:27

MANY foreigners come to South Africa seeking refuge and safety. They have a right to be protected and assisted.

South Africa must not forget how its own people sought refuge in other countries in the apartheid era, and how they were given asylum and assistance.

They were certainly not persecuted or treated as criminals. All foreigners cannot be accused of criminal elements - most foreigners are law abiding persons who have entered South Africa legally.

Such are protected and share similar rights as citizens. Criminal elements may exist among some foreigners just as much as it exists among some South African citizens.

Foreigners cannot be accused of taking jobs from locals. Generally foreigners undertake jobs that citizens are unwilling to take.

Many foreigners become vendors on streets and townships, an activity from which no other South African is barred.

Xenophobia tarnishes the image of South Africa internationally. Since the advent of democracy South Africa became a beacon of hope and a model example for the rest of the world.

The recent attacks in Durban, Soweto and Khayelitsha threaten foreign investor confidence and our growing tourism industry.

Moreover global professionals possessing the much-needed skills that a developing South Africa requires are reluctant to relocate to South Africa.

Xenophobia, in essence, is racist and prejudiced behaviour. It discriminates between South Africans citizens and citizens of other nations. It arises out of the perception that South Africans are superior and better while persons of other nationalities are second-rate.

There has been a lack of firm action from the South African government since the widespread 2008 xenophobic attacks.

The so-called inter-ministerial committee established by government to address xenophobia has not been heard of since its inception subsequent to the 2008 attacks.

There is a vacuum of condemnation of xenophobia from the president.

There is no clear message from government. Government statements about xenophobia are ambiguous. As a result 35% of South African citizens feel that there is no danger to saying bad things about foreigners.

Government has not reprimanded or reproved King Goodwill Zwelithini for his recent statement that foreigners should and#034;pack their bags and leaveand#034; South Africa.

Government has failed to restrain or impeach communities committing xenophobic crimes.

Why has government failed to co-ordinate a law enforcement response that aims to arrest anyone responsible for inciting violence against foreigners or destruction of their property?

Perhaps reprimanding their voters goes against their political ideology considering the upcoming local government elections next year.

In the state of the nation address the president downgraded foreigners when he banned them from owning land in South Africa.

This has not been clarified to date and thus sends a clear message to the grassroots that foreigners are not welcome to stay in South Africa.

The demilitarization of our country’s borders after 1994 was an error of government. The new government associated border military with colonialism andamp; apartheid. The removal of proper border control mechanisms saw literally millions of people gaining entry to South Africa illegally.

Government does not have any social policies in place to teach South Africans about refugees, immigrants or our countryand#039;s international obligations. Government has failed to teach its citizens to accept population diversity.

Councillor Nel Sewraj

ACDP KZN provincial executive chairman

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