Mbeki: Africans will sink or swim together

2008-06-11 00:00

Cape Town — Africans across the continent will either “sink or swim” together. These were the words of President Thabo Mbeki during debate on the Presidency Budget vote, as he condemned the “criminal and callous” xenophobic attacks that have taken place around South Africa in recent weeks.

Addressing the National Assembly, Mbeki said that the attacks on nationals from other countries was the work of a minority of South Africans whose outlook does not represent the majority. “Undoubtedly, these cowardly attacks have shamed all of us and have soiled the good name of our country … ,” he said.

Mbeki recalled how, in 2001, SA was asked to host the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related/Intolerance. “… many around the world made bold to declare SA a pilot project whose outcome should inform the global struggle against the demons of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances.

“However, events of the last weeks … have impacted negatively on our collective standing as front troops in the global struggle for a humane and tolerant world.

“Even though these callous actions were carried out by a tiny minority … this should … make all of us look … in the mirror to find an answer to the question: What has happened to our … spirit of Ubuntu that … enjoins every member of the community to act in solidarity with those in dire circumstances?”

Mbeki quoted from a 2001 Africa Day message in which the ANC called for vigilance against xenophobia against African immigrants.

“To express the critical importance of Africa to ourselves, both black and white, we should say that we are either African or we are nothing … We sink or swim together.”

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