Mbeki: SA needs to address issue of xenophobia

South Africa needs to address the issue of xenophobia, President Thabo Mbeki said on Wednesday in the National House of Traditional Leaders in Pretoria.

“Much has been mentioned by yourself concerning foreigners in our areas. I’m very glad that this matter will be addressed naturally together with the relevant government departments.

“I noted what you have said about our tradition with regards to welcoming foreigners ...
but [we] need to ensure that treatment was acceptable and that indeed they should not be above our own people,” said Mbeki.

This was in response to the house chairperson Peter Kutama’s comment on the need to assist foreigners coming into the country.

Kutama said traditional leaders were aware of the problems facing the country, including service delivery, poverty and the influx of foreigners into South Africa.

Mbeki said he was aware of the conflicts, even in Tshwane, involving foreign nationals.

“I remember even the mayor of the city was raising this matter of conflicts that have taken place in the Tshwane area between South Africans and foreigners, which is something that we want to avoid,” he said.

On the establishment of a department for traditional leadership, Mbeki said the Cabinet had approved this on March 5. The Provincial and Local Government Department would facilitate the process.

On the issue of the Nhlapo Ccmmission, Mbeki said the first report of the commission had been finalised. The commission was established to investigate traditional claims and disputes.

He said traditional leaders would be informed of the commission’s findings.

This process was expected to be completed at the end of April.

The debate was attended by, among others, Minister of Provincial and Local Government Sydney Mufamadi, Tshwane mayor Gwen Ramakgopa and chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal house of traditional leaders Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Buthelezi, however, said that he was “disadvantaged” as he was not present when Mbeki addressed the house in February.

“This has deprived me the opportunity of debating the speech that President Mbeki delivered when he officially opened the house,” said Buthelezi.—Sapa

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