Stop inciting xenophic tensions, marchers tell govt leaders

2017-03-04 14:24

Cape Town - A coalition of over 10 civil bodies has demanded that high-level government and tribal leaders refrain from making comments that could incite xenophobic violence.

Just over 100 people marched to Parliament on Saturday to hand over a memorandum of demands against xenophobia to a Presidency official.

                                      Presidency official Charles Ford signs the memorandum

Included in the group were representatives from the Africa Solidarity network, the Cape Town Housing Assembly, Gender Sonke Justice and Unifam.

Faeza Meyer of the Housing Assembly read from the coalition's memorandum and its first demand addressed the role of the country's leadership.

"Government and tribal leaders and officials must refrain from making xenophobic comments. Any such leaders must be held accountable for such statements," she read.

The memorandum was critical of government's role in the build-up to "Afrophobia" in the poor, working class areas in the country.

"Home Affairs has a long history of abusing both local masses and prospective immigrants," she continued from the memo.

"If one is rich and from Europe or North America, then Home Affairs is quick to react.

"However, if you are poor and from the rest of Africa, the Middle East or Asia, then Home Affairs treats you with total disrespect, not granting residency permits or travel documents to those who qualify for it."

They felt for the thousands who have died due to disease and poverty.

'Poverty can never be an excuse'

The memorandum also said that poverty can never be an excuse for poor South Africans to attack their poor, neighbouring brothers and sisters.

"The vast majority of local and immigrants masses are completely opposed to drugs and crime," she read.

"We all want criminals to be removed from our communities too. Xenophobia is not the answer to crime and poverty. Unity of the masses is the real answer.

"The real criminals will slip through the net if we are fighting each other instead of uniting. Poverty can never be an excuse to attack our fellow poor."

Imperialism and colonialism were two of the biggest culprits, robbing the continent of its natural wealth while the majority of its people remain poor.

They called on the state to fully guarantee the safety of all immigrants in the country.

Zuma to respond in 4 to 6 weeks

"Immigrants and refugees are welcome here!" the memorandum ended.

Presidency official Charles Ford accepted the memorandum outside Parliament.

He said he could not say much other than government supports the call for an end to violence.

He said the president would respond between 4 to 6 weeks.

"Wow, a month and two weeks," some of the protesters could be heard saying.

Their other demands were:

- Home Affairs must treat all refugees with respect and process their applications efficiently.
- Police should stop harassing immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
- Stop collusion between the banks and big mining companies involved in "large-scale theft".
- Wealth stolen by big companies should be returned.
- Increase the tax rate on company profits back up to 40%.
- Jobs for all at a living wage.
- Decent integrated housing for all close to places of work.
- Free quality education for all, that reflects the true history of South Africa, exposing the role of imperialism.
- Free quality healthcare for all.

Read more on:    cape town  |  politics 2017  |  xenophobia  |  parliament 2017

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