Business Day/Sapa, 3 April 2008

PLEASE NOTE: Readers wishing to reproduce and reference this article
should contact the editors of the Business Day and/or Sapa for permission

SA needed to address the issue of xenophobia, President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday in the National House of Traditional Leaders in Pretoria. “Much has been mentioned by yourself concerning foreigners in our areas. I’m very glad that this matter will be addressed, naturally together with the relevant government departments. “I noted what you have said about our tradition with regards to welcoming foreigners ... but (we) need to ensure that treatment was acceptable and that indeed they should not be above our own people," Mbeki said. This was in response to the house chairman, Peter Kutama’s, comment on the need to assist foreigners coming into the country. Kutama said traditional leaders were aware of the problems facing the country, including service delivery, poverty and the influx of foreigners to SA. Mbeki said he was aware of conflicts, even in Tshwane, involving foreign nationals. “I remember even the mayor of the city was raising this matter of conflicts that have taken place in the Tshwane area between South Africans and foreigners, which is something that we want to avoid," he said. On the issue of the Southern African Development Community House of Traditional Leaders, Mbeki said the government had committed itself to working with SADC in the preparation for the launch, expected in July. On the establishment of a department for traditional leadership, Mbeki said the cabinet had approved this on March 5. The provincial and local government department would facilitate the process. Mbeki said he was impressed by the way in which the house had reacted to the Noord Street, Johannesburg, miniskirt incident, in which women had been indecently assaulted. Mbeki said the first report of the Nhlapo commission, established to investigate traditional claims and disputes, had been finalised. The debate was attended by Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi, Tshwane mayor Gwen Ramakgopa, and the chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders, Mangosuthu Buthelezi.