'State is dragging its feet'

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

The intended reintegration of foreign nationals into the communities - which was supposed to be concluded within a month - might not happen soon.

The government had given displaced foreign nationals two months to reintegrate into their communities or return to their countries following the xenophobic attacks a month ago.

A study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) to investigate the underlying causes of the attacks has found that the government has failed to engage with communities about their grievances.

The report says the attacks should have been predicted because of the country's long track record in using violence as a means of protest.

"Every time there are protests in the communities violence is used," the report says. "It has become a disease."

"If government does not engage with the sentiment expressed by ordinary residents that foreign nationals should leave the country, the risk is that these feelings of alienation between the government and South African citizens will deepen and the possibility of successful reintegration ... will be diminished."

The role of the government, immigrant influx , the impact of migrants on gender dynamics, the pace of housing policy, the politics of economic livelihoods and the competition for resources are identified as being critical to the emergence of tensions.

The HSRC has invited Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya to receive the report.

He said: "We did not do enough in educating the masses about the help we received from African countries during the apartheid era.

"History should not be treated as a minority in schools. Children should be taught about who they are and where they come from and about other countries."

The HSRC recommends that a national summit on foreign nationals and immigrants be held, that local community forums on migration be formed, that an audit of RDP houses and the development of policies be conducted, that there should be border control and that the government must deal with corruption at the Department of Home Affairs, local government and the South African Police Service.