Parliament to investigate xenophobia (again)

2015-05-06 13:39
March against xenophobia in Johannesburg.

March against xenophobia in Johannesburg. (Denzil Maregele)

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Parliament has established an ad hoc committee to investigate the recent wave of xenophobic attacks that took place in some areas of the country last month, with a focus on their causes.

Deputy chief whip of the ANC Doris Dlakude tabled a motion this morning calling on the National Assembly to note the recent reported incidents of violence against foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and other areas.

Dlakude said the committee, which would be made up of MPs from the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP), would investigate the violence against foreign nationals and related matters, make recommendations where applicable and exercise those powers as set out in joint rule 32 that may assist it in carrying out its task.

Rule 32 of the joint rules of Parliament states that a joint committee may summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation or to produce documents.

The joint committee will consist of nine members of the NCOP and 11 members of the National Assembly.

The joint committee will also consider and, where applicable, incorporate in its work all the work and recommendations of the task team of the members of Parliament probing violence and attacks on foreign nationals that was established in 2008.

It has to report back to the National Assembly by August 30.

In May 2008, responding to the xenophobic attacks at that time, Parliament established a task team made up of MPs to investigate the violence against foreigners.

That team visited hot spots that included Alexandra, Tembisa, Germiston and Reigerpark/Ramaphosaville.

It found, among other things, that the places engulfed by violence and attacks on foreign nationals were primarily informal settlements and hostels.

“These areas often experience a lack of service delivery and are where the poorest people reside.

“Characteristic of the violence in some areas is a lack of development, while in others there is a suspicion among some residents that they will be left out of the delivery of houses and services,” it said in its report. 

It also highlighted that criminals took advantage of such situations, which had been illustrated by incidents of looting, armed robbery, housebreaking, theft and other violent crimes that had increased in the period.

The task team said, in its interactions with the authorities and communities, it received no confirmation that a “third force” existed, but the perception garnered in Alexandra was that there had been a measure of planning and orchestration in the attacks.

The task team drafted a slew of recommendations for Parliament and its committees to implement.

Parliament told City Press two weeks ago that those recommendations were referred, in August of that year, to the relevant portfolio committees following their adoption and this led to engagements with the executive around identified issues. 

“Parliament further sent to the parliaments of African states a formal statement of remorse regarding the attacks,” said parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs.

“We are confident that the interventions effected since then worked well in containing the scourge. It is, however, also clear that the issues involved are deep and complex and need to be understood, as they continuously evolve and manifest,” he said.

The DA disagreed.

Chief whip John Steenhuisen said despite having “really good recommendations”, the task team’s report was “kicked backwards and forwards and ended up in the chief whips’ forum, where it died”. 

“There were good recommendations in there, which should have been implemented and, if the recommendations had been carried through and implemented, then I have no doubt it would have been easy to pull them out and reactivate them, but no one has been able to provide us with the resolutions or say which committee has resolved what or what ministers undertook to do,” said Steenhuisen.

Read more on:    parliament  |  xenophobia

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