Addressing a plenary session on prejudice and discrimination at the Social Cohesion summit in Kliptown, Soweto, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said all South Africans needed to understand and confront the history of apartheid and colonization. She said: “We should not despair and give up in building a caring and inclusive nation.” Dlamini-Zuma said most of the social challenges such as racism, tribalism, sexism and xenophobia all stem from apartheid and colonialism. She said colonialists divided people into different racial groups and put together people that spoke the same languages together to so that they could be easier to control. The minister said women were treated as minors and were at times not allowed to sign documents. She said up to this day, gender inequality exists and females are the most unemployed. She also said that in the 2008 xenophobic attacks, a third of the victims were South Africans who had immigrated from other areas of the country. Xenophobia has links with migrant workers who had to be moved to different areas as forms of cheap labour during the apartheid era. Dlamini-Zuma said criminals exploit the poorest of the poor who compete for scarce resources and evidence could be seen in the looting that happened during the 2008 xenophobic attacks. She said immigration laws should be managed to ensure the safety of both South Africans and immigrants. Other speakers at the plenary session agreed with the minister and said scarce resources bring about confrontations between South Africans and foreigners. This is because the poor South Africans feel they can not address the government systems and blame foreigners. They called upon government to educate, provide leadership and capacitate communities to take charge of their destinies. And that government should put structures in place to address lack of resources to the people on the ground.
– By Esther Kalu