Cape Town – Former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has addressed the immigration policy, saying the country can not have a policy that chases away foreign nationals.
Mbeki addressed students of the University of South Africa on Wednesday at an event in Pretoria.
“Part of the reality here is that you have many people crossing from Eswatini into SA to collect grants. It is the same for Lesotho.
“Now, do you want to put an electric fence there to stop those people coming? These are foreign nationals who are coming to take your grants. SA has got to be bigger than that,” Mbeki said.
He added: “The black population of South Africa is not xenophobic.
Mbeki said it was more an issue of traders who were being out-competed by foreign nationals inciting the perception of the public.
When addressing the migration of foreign nationals, he said that South Africans needed to start thinking about the matter correctly.
“We see ourselves, certainly from the ANC side, as an important engine for the transformation of the continent for the better.
“And indeed the rest of the continent, when it engaged us in the struggle against Apartheid, the hope was exactly that. That a liberated South Africa would be in the front ranks in terms of the transformation of the continent for the better,” Mbeki added.
He said that building a wall or an electric fence to keep out foreigners as Donald Trump did would not work, as people would still come to the country. Mbeki said that he would never want to see such a South Africa.
He said integration was important for the transformation of the African continent.
“We have had a SADC agreement which provides for free movement of people as part of that process of integration. The African continent has a similar protocol which addresses the same thing — free movement of people.
“Does SA say, ‘please move freely among yourselves except here’? Then SA ceases to be part of the African continent which I do not think should happen,” Mbeki said.
Picture: Twiter / @thee_adv
Compiled by Junaid Benjamin