slow delivery blamed for xeno violence

CRISIS: Foreign nationals run for their lives during xenophobic attacks. ©  Sowetan.
CRISIS: Foreign nationals run for their lives during xenophobic attacks. © Sowetan.

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Violence against foreigners was caused by the slow pace of service delivery, especially relating to housing.

Residents were also angered by inefficient communication between them and the government. Perceived corruption and the impropriety of government officials also sparked the violence.

These are some of the factors identified by a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) study as being critical to the emergence of tensions around the country. The study was conducted in Alexandra, Tembisa and Mamelodi, all in Gauteng; and Imizamo Yethu in Western Cape - the four areas that have seen the worst xenophobic clashes.

The HSRC says: "When respondents were probed about the role (and/or actions) of the government in the attacks, a general sense of dissatisfaction was expressed about government's handling of the conflict.

"Though not holding the government directly culpable for the attacks, a number of exchanges illustrated a general opinion that government bodies, especially at local level, had not been effectively communicating and engaging with residents on issues ranging from service delivery to probing thoughts and grievances about foreign nationals."

One of the 100 people canvassed during the study said: "Government officials must come down to the people and ask what is wrong, instead of coming up with words such as 'they are going nowhere and they are here to stay'."

The HSRC's democracy and governance programme director, Adrian Hadland, says: "The rising number of immigrants who come into the country is uncontrollable. The government has been taking things for granted. Border policies should be revisited."

Accepting the report on Monday, Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya said: "The government is aware of the problems faced by communities. They are worrying.

"Housing developments and the rate of unemployment will be resolved soon. We promise to do more to rid the country of these problems."

l The Gauteng department of health is keeping up with the provincial government's pledge to expand primary healthcare. The department will, by the end of this financial year, open seven new clinics.

MEC for health Brian Hlongwa told the Gauteng legislature on Friday that the primary healthcare system remained at the core of their business operations.