Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki says foreign nationals who are committing crimes in South Africa must be arrested and deported and not paint all foreign nationals with the same brush.
The former president also says South Africans are not xenophobic.
Mbeki, commenting on a range of issues in Africa and the world, shared his thoughts during a conversation with students and diplomats in Pretoria.
Since his retirement, Mbeki has channeled his energy into contributing to building a better Africa. And he took time to answer questions on the thorny issue of immigration laws.
“The African continent has felt, for a very long time, very, very close to this country, that it has its own responsibility to assist in the liberation of the people of South Africa. You take a country like Mozambique just across our border, which lost thousands and thousands of people killed because it was refusing to walk away from the support here. The same thing happened in Angola.”
Mbeki has also commented on foreign nationals who are found to have committed crimes.
“We need to walk away from the false notion that the bulk of crime in this country is caused by foreigners. It is not correct. The bulk of crime in this country is caused is committed by South Africans. There are foreigners who commit crimes. You should arrest them and charge them. This is what we should do and avoid labeling other people.”
And strong views on the current conflict in Tigray.
“At the base of that conflict, which has claimed lots of life in terms of that war that has been going since the end of 2020, it is this matter, you have a diverse Ethiopian population ethnically and the allegation that is made now is the last two, three years have been that in that federal arrangement, the Tigrayans became the dominant force though they are relatively small. That’s part of the reason for the war that is going on now.”
He has, however, raised concern about the role of the African Union in conflict areas, particularly the involvement of external mediators.
Mbeki has called on Africans to continue to fight for the repatriation of what was taken from the continent during colonialism.