Xenophobia - statement by Mr Ntopile Kganyago, MP (UDM Deputy-President) (16 July 2010)

Reportedly Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa wrote off the recent incidents where non-South Africans fell victim to crime and violence as "criminality disguised as xenophobia". The Minister seems to wrestle with semantics; identifying whether these criminals are bigots and/or opportunists does not lessen the crime or the victims’ suffering. ‘General’ Cele sings from the same dodgy tune.

This does however show Government’s serial inattentiveness; one cannot help but feel that xenophobia in South Africa has a cyclical quality. This time around there had even been rumours in several communities of ‘foreigners being sent home’ after the Soccer World Cup. Minister Mthethwa’s contribution to the public debate comes over as brusque, patronising and myopic. The Minister surely must appreciate the complexity of the issue… are we baring witness to:
 The deeds of mere ruffians, thieves and vandals with murderous intent as the Minister seem to suggest?
 Political scheming of the worst kind where the adverse situations and the fears of our people are ruthlessly exploited to gain votes?
 The impact of Government’s poor control over the arrival of illegal immigrants and lack of resettlement mechanisms?
 Ourselves in a mirror? It must be agreed that South Africans still struggle with social cohesion i.e. issues of racism, xenophobia, tribalism etc.?
 All of the above, plus…?

The Minister and Police Chief’s cavalier attitude belies the complexity of an issue which demands proper inquiry and sustainable responses. They are veering dangerously close to dereliction of their constitutional duties to ensure the security and order of society. We cannot allow the horrible violence of two years ago to be repeated.