Poverty has to go first

A community at Ekurhuleni's Ramaphosa informal settlement, one of the flash points of xenophobic violence, resolved at the weekend not to allow immigrants to return to their fold.

A community at Ekurhuleni's Ramaphosa informal settlement, one of the flash points of xenophobic violence, resolved at the weekend not to allow immigrants to return to their fold.

This is a disturbing development - needless to say - that will frustrate efforts to stamp out xenophobia and normalise the situation so that immigrants can be reintegrated into local communities.

Latent xenophobic sentiment remains as much an ominous spectre as a signal of potential resistance to reintegration initiatives.

Similar warnings have come from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), which says the move might not be possible "for some time under current conditions".

Much spadework still has to be done to pave the way to the peaceful resettlement of immigrants.

The HSRC has recommended a national summit on immigrants to map out a plan for social integration and peaceful coexistence among locals and immigrants.

Sustained public programmes to engage the anti-immigrant sentiment among local communities might go a long way to countering the current climate.

But this will not happen until the issues of poverty and unemployment among locals are redressed with renewed urgency.

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