S Africans, foreigners should live together: Zuma

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has called on South Africans and foreign nationals from across the continent to live together in peace.

Zuma was responding to a question in Parliament on how local South Africans should desist from xenophobic attacks and realise that in the past, South Africans sought refuge and were treated well in other African countries.

"We seek to live in peace with our neighbours and the people of the world in conditions of equality, mutual respect and equal advantage," said Zuma, adding that this is what should guide relations with foreign nationals, especially those from the African continent.

"Racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance are in conflict with our Constitution and human rights culture and should be eradicated in all their forms. In addition, South Africans were recipients of friendship, solidarity and support by the peoples of Africa and the world. The South African government therefore understands international solidarity perfectly well."

He said foreign nationals have lived among South Africans for decades in conditions of peace and friendship and the new anti-foreigner sentiment was being fueled by joblessness and poverty, among other factors.

An important intervention to fight xenophobia is "to mainstream civic education in society and promote awareness about foreign nationals and the fact that not all of them are illegal immigrants".

He said the South African Human Rights Commission was helping the government to deal with the challenge of xenophobia and avoid similar attacks to those that occurred in 2008.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee established last year to look into the matter would be meeting later this month to review its progress. This would include what has been done to implement the Human Rights Commission recommendations, he said.

"Most importantly, government cannot effectively deal with this challenge alone. We invite all sectors to become part of the campaign to build a caring society."