President Zuma holds fruitful discussions with representatives of foreign nationals
24 April 2015
President Jacob Zuma on Friday, 24 April 2015 held fruitful discussions with leaders of organisations representing foreign nationals resident in South Africa at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria.
The President called the meeting to hear the concerns of foreign nationals through their organisations, communicate government efforts to end the attacks and discuss possible solutions to ensure that these attacks do not happen again.
The meeting was attended by over fifty (50) representatives from various organisations representing foreign nationals in South Africa.
The President acknowledged on behalf of government that the recent attacks on foreign nationals were not the first time they happened in our country. The President reaffirmed the South African government position that the overwhelming majority of South Africans are not xenophobic.
The meeting was very cordial and reaffirmed that all stakeholders must work together to ensure that the attacks do not happen again and that a permanent solution is found.
“As government we believe in dealing with the challenges we face together. Therefore we called this meeting so we can discuss and involve organisations representing foreign nationals in South Africa in finding collective solutions so that these attacks do not happen again. We have to ensure that permanent solutions are found, so that all our people can continue to live side by side together like we have done for years,” said President Zuma.
The meeting was unanimous in acknowledging and commending government efforts to stop the attacks. The attendees also relayed their experiences in their everyday lives in South Africa but committed to work together with South African authorities to address the challenges.
The meeting received a report on progress on cases, which were brought before the courts related to attacks on foreign nationals in 2008, which led to successful prosecutions. In the period January 2008 till 2009 a total of 79 cases were brought before the courts with 132 accused persons, which resulted in 132 convictions. In total, the courts meted 140 years of sentences against the accused. These cases are a clear demonstration that government is committed to bringing perpetrators of attacks on foreign nationals to book. It is further demonstration that government takes these attacks seriously and that action has been taken since the 2008 attacks.
The meeting then received the following suggestions among others from the organisations;
- The government should consider developing an anti-xenophobia campaign, which can be actively promoted in communities. The campaign should educate and discourage any xenophobic attitudes. The integration should be a process championed by government working with all organisations in the country.
- The South African government should also promote social cohesion through programmes and campaigns across all races. Social cohesion programmes should involve organisations representing foreign nationals. The government should consider using sporting codes to promote social cohesion and integration. Government should consider reconciliation programme before reintegration process can take place.
- The South African Police Service must treat all citizens as equals and investigate all cases presented before them including by foreign nationals.
- Foreign nationals living in South Africa should contribute to the development of communities in which they live. For example, those with educational skills should teach young people outside the school system to improve their skills in maths and science.
- Major events in the country like Africa Week, planned for May should be used as opportunities to educate and promote African unity.
- The government should consider the standardisation of labour practices, so that employers can be forced not to employ cheap labour and exploit people. The standardisation will ensure that all employees both nationals and non-nationals compete equally for jobs.
- The meeting further called on government to revisit its migration policy and processes, which will lead to an improved service.
- The meeting expressed satisfaction that an IMC has been established on migration and looked forward to the outcome of its work.
The President further informed the meeting that government takes the matter seriously and it will work on a long term plan that addresses all the concerns and ensure that the attacks do not take place again in South Africa.
The meeting concluded that the representatives will form a smaller committee which will interact with the Inter-Ministerial Committee led by Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe to take forward the suggestions made in the meeting.
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Issued by: The Presidency