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'SA no place for unskilled foreigners'

Newly elected IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa. / SANDILE NDLOVU
Newly elected IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa. / SANDILE NDLOVU

New IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa believes that foreign nationals who have no skills value to add to the South African economy should be assisted by the government to
return to their countries.

Hlabisa, who took over the reins from long-time leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi last month, told Sowetan yesterday that the government was unable to properly handle the issue of foreign nationals in the country.

"All foreign nationals who are within the country and have skills, but are not documented must be documented and retained . those without skills, but are looking for jobs, the government must assist them to return to their original countries," said Hlabisa.

"If this is not being attended to, we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. There is no reason why they should be here while we also have people [South Africans] who are unemployed with no skills like foreign nationals."

Hlabisa said it was important that the government document all foreign nationals, irrespective of whether they got into the country legally or otherwise.

He said allowing anyone without skills to remain in the country and compete for scarce resources with locals is suicidal.

"If you allow anybody, you will reach a situation that will be beyond control. People will say if these people were not here, we would have had a job of being a cleaner [for example]," he said.

Hlabisa's predecessor visited Johannesburg at the height of the xenophobic attacks
and received a cold welcome from some of the hostel community. They rejected his call for calm.

Hlabisa said his proposal has to be implemented legally and should not be mistaken for xenophobia or promotion of attacks on foreign nationals.

But the African Diaspora Forum chairperson Vusumuzi Sibanda was disappointed with Hlabisa's views, describing them as unfortunate.

"If you decide that you are going to attract only the most qualified people from the neighbouring countries, you will leave that country without its technocrats.

"You are actually condemning that country to failure because you are taking its best," said Sibanda.

"How do you expect the less skilled to sustain themselves in that country.

"Once you allow a certain number of migrants to come into your country, you must be in a position to accept the best and some of the worse," Sibanda said.

Hlabisa said his priority, as the leader of the fourth biggest party in the country, would be to strengthen unity in the  party, growing it in other provinces.

He said he would also deal with gender-based violence and promote cohesion in
the country after the recent xenophobic attacks.

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