Lekota calls for government to introduce refugee camps
Congress of the People (Cope) president Mosiuoa Lekota has called on the South African government to introduce refugee camps for foreigners.
Addressing a press conference of the coalition governments that took over cities including Tshwane‚ Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg‚ Lekota took aim at foreigners.
The Cope leader criticised the government's handling of immigrants‚ saying that during the struggle against apartheid‚ ANC exiles were confined to refugee camps and not allowed to “push out” residents.
“We were in exile ourselves. Our own South Africans were abroad. We were not allowed to occupy the cities of those countries and then push the citizens out‚” he said.
Lekota claimed that South Africa - even during periods when there has been a high influx of foreign nationals‚ particularly from neighbouring countries like Zimbabwe‚ who were fleeing political instability - had never housed foreigners in refugee camps. However‚ temporary shelter was provided to foreigners who were victims of sporadic xenophobic attacks in 2008 and 2015.
Lekota said the ANC government was allowing foreigners to "flood South Africa".
He suggested that putting foreigners into camps was a similar approach to what was done by other countries to handle refugees.
“South Africa must look after its own‚ first and foremost‚” he said.
“I have been into Soweto. I have been to the Vaal. Businessmen and women that I know‚ their shops are closing down because we have foreigners in our country who are allowed to trade without VAT‚ who do not pay taxes that South Africans have to pay‚” said Lekota.
He said under a coalition government‚ such a situation should not be allowed. “Why should our people pay tax? Why should they have all these regulations but they do not apply to foreigners?” asked Lekota.
Lekota was sharing a stage with DA leader Mmusi Maimane‚ Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald‚ ACDP chairperson Jo-Ann Downs and Johannesburg transport MMC Nonhlanhla Mukhuba from the IFP.
It’s not the first time in recent weeks that Lekota has made headlines with his controversial comments‚ especially on the land issue.
Speaking to TimesLIVE after the briefing‚ Maimane distanced himself Lekota's sentiments, saying the DA did not share the same stance as that of the Cope leader.
“Our position is straightforward: we must start with border control. If you fail to do border control‚ you are going to have difficulty‚” said Maimane.
“Our stance is‚ let’s make sure citizens are registered and they are given the appropriate rights‚ but the most crucial thing is‚ let’s protect our borders‚” said Maimane.
Downs from the ACDP shared a similar view with Maimane‚ also distancing her party from the views of Lekota. “I want to make it very clear that we are not xenophobic. But we do have a problem [in the Johannesburg inner city] with things like hijacked buildings‚ which lead to drug trafficking‚ child trafficking [and] women trafficking‚” said Downs.
She said the trafficking of women‚ children and men who are used as slave labour was a real issue.