Xenophobia tackled

Vadi speaks about xenophobia
Nie Cele
Civil society groups, academics and business sector converged at the Pyramid Venue in Jozi to tackle issues of Xenophobia and immigration. According to organizers this was done to achieve social cohesion. The event was held under the banner,Gauteng Peer Review Mechanism.
This follows the unfortunate killing of 14 year old Siphiwe Mahori in Snake Park, Soweto by a Somali national Alodixashi Sheik Yusuf in January.
The incident saw a spread of the looting of the shops owned by the foreign nationals from across the province. Academics presented their researched findings which revealed amongst other things, that black and white people in the country will never trust each other and that South Africans who are hostile to foreigners are more likely to have less socially cohesive attitudes regarding race. Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi, who heads the provincial Peer Review Mechanism, told the audience that it is government duty to protect the country’s citizens and people who have come from other countries.
Vadi said foreign national particularly those who have come from SADC countries have become an integral part of the South African community. “The provincial government condemned the attack of foreign nationals and they will continue to be protected in the same way as citizens.”

He also argued that civil society is not positioned to deal with the issue of immigration proactively. “We need to manage and control the movement of people in the country. What we have committed to do in instances such as these, is to have structured discussions with affected communities and to put plans in place to address such undesirable activities.” Vadi, said.

He also pointed out that, the issue of xenophobia threatened the Transformation, Modernization and Re-industrialisation (TMR) programme which Premier David Makhura outlined in his State of the Province Address in February this year.

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane responsible for refugee affairs in the Department of Home Affairs said according to legislation refugees must enjoy all the rights set up in the constitution except the right to vote.

Mkhwebane, also revealed that foreign nationals may be provided with section 22 permits which is valid for six months, allowing them to work and study in the republic but they still need to comply with trading licenses of each municipality.

“Refugees need to apply for trading licenses to be able to operate businesses legally in the province. An asylum seeker or a child born to asylum seekers does not qualify for a grant or housing assistance because their stay in the country is temporary,” said Mkhwebane.

Vadi concluded that, the council will meet in the next few weeks to put together a detailed plan of action based on the recommendations received from the meeting.
Did you know?
South Africa is one of the few countries in the world which have signed the 1951 Refugee Convention without reservations.
This involves granting the affected persons with all rights enjoyed by local citizens, including the right to work, education, freedom of movement, except the right to vote entrenched in the country’s constitution.

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