SA citizens are not xenophobic - Jeff Radebe

SA will review its migration policy to ease tensions between citizens & foreign nationals.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe during a post cabinet briefing. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said the government is reviewing the country's migration policy to ease tensions arising between citizens and foreign nationals who enter South Africa seeking a better life.

Radebe chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on migration.

He was briefing the parliamentary joint ad hoc committee set up to investigate the causes of the violent attacks against foreign nationals in which seven people lost their lives earlier this year.

Radebe said there's no evidence that a hatred of foreigners is behind the attacks.

"As the Inter-Ministerial Committee, we've concluded that South Africans are not xenophobic."

He said violence flared due to tensions between locals and foreign nationals competing for scarce jobs and businesses, and that South Africa's migration policy is partly to blame.

"Our migration policy is not equipped to deal with the inward migration of foreign nationals."

Failed border management and immigration controls, corruption and abuse of the system are now the focus of an overhaul of migration policy.

Radebe said while the Department of Home Affairs is leading the process, all of government is involved.

He said government is planning to audit and license informal businesses and wants local by-laws more strictly enforced.

The minister said the government also plans to audit and license informal businesses in townships and informal settlements, where he said foreigners now own or operate the majority of spaza shops.

He said some avoid tax, import counterfeit goods and act like cartels, closing out competition from locals and causing tensions.