The African National Congress came out with a strong message of support for foreigners living in their nation. Due to unsettled conditions in many parts of the African continent, thousands have come to South Africa in search of safety and work. During the past several months there have been a series of xenophobic attacks on foreigners which have not only included verbal but physical assaults. Tiyani Rikhotso, speaking for the ANC, said, “The killings in Attendgeville earlier this year and recent attacks on Somalis and others are an attack not only on foreigners, but are an assault on the values of our democratic society.” He called for all state institutions and security agencies to apply the country’s immigration laws in a consistent and even-handed manner.
Cosatu Gauteng, of the Congrss of South African Trade Unions, spoke about the increasingly difficult issue of Zimbabweans who have fled the Robert Mugabe dictatorship and brutality and come to South Africa to avoid starvation or death. “People’s frustration is understandable, but there can be no excuse for placing the blame for these problems on immigrants who have been forced to flee from even worse conditions in other parts of Africa, especially Zimbabwe.” It is estimatedf about a million people from Zimbabwe are now in South Africa.
If Robert Mugabe gains an electoral victory there will probably be another exodus of
Zimbabweans which means even greater tension within South Africa as a nation that is struggling to improve living standards for its own poor must confront the issue of thousands of poor people from other nations. It is unfortunate that President Mbeki continues supporting Mugabe instead of being concerned for the needs of South Africa which are tied in with creating a democratic Zimbabwe.