Monday, July 19, 2010

Zille, Mthethwa to work together to stop xenophobia

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille have pledged to work together to identify hotspots in the Western Cape and prevent threats of xenophobic attacks from taking place.

With the World Cup over, reports of threats against foreigners by locals have risen in the Western Cape.

Briefing the media in Parliament on Friday, Mthethwa, who chairs the inter-ministerial committee on xenophobia, said it was necessary for the local, provincial and national government to work together to maintain a "united front" in tackling threats of xenophobia in the province.

Zille said: "This is not a party political issue. It is an issue on which we all have to work together on, agree on plans, agree on root causes and address those root causes and also deal with the symptoms, because the symptoms sometimes have devastating consequences".
Welcoming her inclusion in the committee, Zille emphasised that the plan was to identify certain flashpoints in the province where incidences of xenophobia had been reported and work closely with police to deal with these threats before they turned violent.

While non-governmental organisations and churches had been roped in to tackle outbreaks of xenophobia, she said 20 teams of mediators were already operating at various flashpoints across the provinces - most of them in the metropole - to deal with cases where incidences of xenophobia had been reported.

Zille believed the teams of mediators had "primarily been responsible" for the threats not escalating to "any great extent" to violence.

"I have also proposed to the minister (Mthethwa) that should any of these threats materialise further that we need to keep the special courts established for the World Cup going for a while so that we can deal with incidences of xenophobic violence quickly, swiftly and publicly," she said.

Commenting on the root cause of xenophobic threats in the Western Cape, Cwele said labour brokers competing among one another had fuelled xenophobic attacks in rural areas of the province.

He said the inter-ministerial committee had already made some suggestions to the Minister of Home Affairs, who was now working to improve conditions for economic migrants by ensuring they were better documented which would make it easier for them to set up bank accounts and start businesses.

Mthethwa also called for the media to report responsively and concentrate more on positive efforts to stem xenophobia in the country rather than on attacks.

He pointed out that the way the media reported incidences of xenophobia might unexpectedly fuel further attacks on foreigners.

Sourced by SA - The Good News via BuaNews - Sunday, 18 July 2010