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27/02/2017: Minister Gigaba must honestly face-up to the xenophobia challenge
27 February 2017
For some time now, I have expressed deep concern for reports of xenophobic attacks and planned protests which target foreign nationals residing in communities within Johannesburg and across Gauteng.

Following reports of xenophobic attacks last week, we cannot allow ourselves to continue to tolerate acts of violence targeting any persons on the basis of any differences, perceived or actual. Ours aspires to be a tolerant and inclusive society, there can be no space for xenophobia in such a society.

Acts of xenophobia are long standing and deep rooted problem which national government has only sought to pay lip service to rather than admitting to and addressing its underlying cause.
There is no better example of this strategy than that which is employed by the National Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba.

My office has consistently made efforts to proactively engage the Minister with the view of implementing joint interventions to the problem of xenophobia and undocumented migrants within the City.

A meeting was held on 13 December 2016 where the Minister and I jointly agreed to work towards tackling migration and associated matters. Notably, the Minister committed to meeting with me again by the end of January with details of collaborative interventions to address the challenges we are facing. That meeting is yet to take place.

Several letters from my office to further discuss the matters relating to our previous meeting have been delivered to the office of the Minister. These have all gone unanswered.

Notably, given my concerns, and in the hope of addressing the problem, I invited the Minister to attend a recent City Lekgotla, so as to provide the Minister with an opportunity to discuss possible collaborative interventions for tackling xenophobia and migration. This invitation was declined.

Despite national government’s commitment to upholding cooperative government, it is now clear that the City’s attempts to engage the Minister on the matter now fall on deaf hears.

The fact that Minister Gigaba is planning to address a meeting hosted by ANC Johannesburg Regional Chairperson, Parks Tau, to discuss issues of migration while ignoring the City’s correspondence and invitations is deeply concerning.

The Minister’s decision to politicise the matter, rather than work cooperatively for the benefit of South Africans and foreign nationals alike, is disappointing and a betrayal of Minister’s office.

The Minister cannot choose to abdicate his duty on the matter.

As local government, we too carry our own duties. Within local government’s limited mandate, we will continue, and are committed, to utilising our available policing capacity to promote law and order and maintain the safety of residents in communities – foreign nationals and South Africans alike.

In addition we will continue utilising our Migrant Help Desk to assist migrants who settle in our city and also boost xenophobia awareness campaigns in our communities.

I have also planned meetings with organisations representing the foreign community within Johannesburg and we will look for ways in which we can work together to find lasting solutions to our challenges.

I truly understand the frustration of South Africans who feel trapped in a cycle of unemployment and their hatred for the crime they see in their communities. However, to channel that anger through xenophobic attacks unfairly vilifies and victimises our foreign brothers and sisters. We must not shy away from the root causes of the problem. The root of this problem lies our inability to bring about economic growth and decrease the inequality that plagues our society.

This too is a problem that has been years in the making by national government.

My door remains open to interactions with the Minister, and national government as a whole, towards finding a solution to xenophobic attacks and issues relating to migration within communities.

Cllr Herman Mashaba
Executive Mayor
City of Joburg

For further information, please contact:

Tony Taverna-Turisan
Director of Communications
Office of the Executive Mayor
City of Johannesburg
Cellular: 082 920 9708
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Last Updated on 27 February 2017