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South Africans are not xenophobic, Ramaphosa says at launch of vaccine factory

19 January 2022 - 17:19
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Patrick Soon-Shiong launched the NantSA facility in Cape Town on Wednesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Patrick Soon-Shiong launched the NantSA facility in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Image: REUTERS/Shelley Christians

President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans are not xenophobic.

As proof, he pointed to the number of academics and students from other African countries studying and working at SA universities.

He was speaking at the launch of the NantSA facility in Brackenfell, Cape Town, on Wednesday. The vaccine-manufacturing facility was established by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Ramaphosa was asked how SA will market the facility to the rest of the continent, considering that South Africans are perceived to be xenophobic in many quarters.

The president said the notion is incorrect and said SA has “a pan-Africanist approach”.

“We appreciate, recognise and embrace the role played by scientists, academics and many of our universities ... from various African countries,” said Ramaphosa. 

“Added to that is that we have become a magnet, a hub for students from other African countries, who come to study here and they get scholarships, and they get support and assistance. This notion that we are xenophobic is debunked because we are not.

“South Africans are not xenophobic. South Africans are embracing and we have been like that from time immemorial. Of course, like in any other country there will be actions like this at certain moments.”

He said sometimes South Africans could be inward-looking.

“Sometimes we become too focused on what his happening in our own country. We need to look at the continent in its totality, in a way that deals with people from various countries on our continent and embrace people from other countries.

“I am particularly proud that we are pan-Africanist. In fact, in our advocacy for self-reliance when it comes to the manufacturing of vaccines, we have been leading the charge that other countries on our continent should have the capability to manufacture vaccines and also to develop the skills that are necessary ... So South Africans are not xenophobic. South Africans embrace people from other countries and we shall continue to do so.”

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