DA calls for urgent debate in Parliament to address xenophobia in Grahamstown

By Andrew Whitfield, MP, Frontier constituency leader:

Yesterday, (subs: Thursday 29 October) I tabled a notice of motion for Parliament to debate the recent xenophobic violence in Grahamstown and the urgent need for intervention by the provincial government.

Motion: I hereby move on behalf of the Democratic Alliance that at its next sitting this house debates the recent xenophobic violence in Grahamstown and the need for urgent intervention by the provincial government to restore peace and provide relief to the victims.

The violence and the plight of the residents affected by it has not received adequate attention from government which is unacceptable.

I have today (subs:  Friday, 30 October) written to the Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle, requesting his urgent intervention to provide relief to the hundreds of displaced persons living in fear.  The foreign nationals affected by the recent violence have rights enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution and it is the government’s duty to uphold these rights.

Local non-profit organisations are working hard around the clock to feed and care for the victims of the violence.  However, their resources are finite and the need for government assistance is now critical.

Earlier this week I called for the establishment of a non-partisan Peace Forum composed of the collective leadership from all sectors of Grahamstown.

This forum’s aim should be to investigate ways to restore and sustain peace in Grahamstown and find sustainable solutions to the threat of xenophobic violence.

Some areas of focus should include:

  • Short term relief through a fundraising effort to assist displaced persons;
  • Mobilisation of churches and other religious communities to unite against xenophobia;
  • A sustained programme of regular community engagement with an emphasis on our common humanity;
  • The formation of a local government structure to ensure assimilation of foreign nationals; and
  • Public education campaigns and attitudinal training.

We need to build a society based on the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity for all. We need to create a united Grahamstown where we all stand together against the criminal elements that seek to derail our society.  We need to learn to live and work together in South Africa and unite around our common humanity.