Xenophobia: SA ‘ignored’ red flags as far back as 2007

2015-05-20 16:16
March against xenophobia.

March against xenophobia. (Maryke Low)

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Xenophobia was identified as a problem in South Africa even before the first wave of xenophobic attacks erupted in 2008 – but politicians did not take up the issue.

It was first flagged as a problem in South Africa in a country review report in 2007.

Laura Kganyago, who is part of the African Peer Review Mechanism in South Africa, said the information on xenophobia that came out of provincial consultations at the time, “made it evident to us to have a summit, where we will be able to address that issue”.

They needed R2 million for the summit, but could not get funding, she said.

“It is only now that through the deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, we are able to push this as requested by civil society at the National Economic Development and Labour Council. They actually pushed it to a higher level so that this could receive positive support,” she said.

“Remember if you don’t have political support, as civil society you are not able to even start [addressing the problems identified in the African Peer Review Mechanism report].”

She said a week or so ago there was a summit in Yeoville where the xenophobia problem was discussed.

Kganyago said South Africa “was identified as a country with high level of xenophobia, and at that point the high-level Panel of Eminent Persons said South Africa did not have a plan on xenophobia and how to address the issue”.

She said xenophobia was at the top of the problems identified in South Africa, followed by violence against women, corruption and service delivery.

The two-day civil society meeting, held at the Gaborone Sun in Botswana, aimed to look at how the Southern African Development Community could get more involved in the African Peer Review Mechanism, which was started in 2003 and was the brain child of former president Thabo Mbeki.

Currently only 35 of the 53 African Union member states have acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism, while seven of SADC’s 15 member states, including Botswana, haven’t signed up.
Read more on:    xenophobia

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