South Africans have said they cannot guarantee that there will not be xenophobic attacks in the country again.
On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma convened a stakeholders’ meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, to discuss the country’s migration policy and how various sectors can work with the government “to promote orderly migration and good relations between citizens and other nationals.”
In a statement issued by office of the Presidency which was made available to our correspondent, the meeting began by observing a moment of silence for the seven people who were killed in the recent attacks against foreign nationals in the country.
The meeting was attended by various stakeholders from government, business, sports, trade union movement, religious leaders, community formations, youth formations, children, disabled persons, traditional authorities, arts and sports groups.
The statement read in part, “The meeting reaffirmed that the overwhelming majority of South Africans, including leaders attending the meeting that they are not xenophobic. The meeting was unanimous in its condemnation and rejection of the attacks against foreign nationals.
“The meeting concluded that it couldn’t guarantee that these attacks will not happen again, unless urgent solutions are found to address genuine concerns that are raised by South Africans. The meeting further agreed overwhelmingly in conclusion that the attacks must stop and that all South Africans must be part of the solution.”
In his opening remarks, President Zuma outlined some of the concerns from South Africans about some foreign nationals, which included unfair business practices, drugs, and influx of illegal foreign nationals.
He stated that the attacks were impacting negatively on South Africa’s reputation. The violence has also occurred at the time when the country will be hosting the World Economic Forum and the African Union Summit in June this year.
“These attacks are not a small matter, nor are they a matter for government alone but for all of us as South Africans. We don’t need another occurrence of these attacks in our country,” Zuma said.
The President also briefed the meeting on the measures undertaken by the South African government since the attacks started and progress made.
According to the statement, the stakeholders acknowledged that there were genuine concerns raised by South Africans and these should be taken seriously. However, they said there was no justification for the attacks.
“The meeting decided to form a committee comprising of representatives of all stakeholders who will work with the Inter-Ministerial Committee announced by the President to take discussions of the meeting forward. The meeting suggested that government should convene a colloquium where all stakeholders should have a discussion and find out what are the real causes of these attacks and find solutions.
“Government should consider establishing inspectors who can go out to inspect and investigate all the shops in the country in the rural areas, townships and cities. Government should also consider looking very closely to the movement of goods coming into the country and ultimately into the “spaza” shops in our communities,” the statement added.
The South African Presidency added that the South African Youth Council would convene a meeting of the youth sector in Pretoria on Thursday, “to formulate a youth response to the attacks.”