Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma issued strong words against xenophobic attacks on Thursday, following a display by the EFF that almost got its leader thrown out of the National Assembly.
The president condemned a spate of attacks on foreigners in Durban and other areas, calling it “shocking and unacceptable”.
He was speaking in a National Assembly session set aside for answering follow-up questions from various MPs.
“We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms. The attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and ubuntu,” he said.
He appealed for calm and an end to violence, warning that the police would crack down on those who defied the law.
The session had started with a point of order from the EFF, demanding that Zuma answer its question of when he was going to pay back the money for his Nkandla homestead.
“I am going to have to throw you out of the house,” she warned.
Malema and his party members were furious.
Malema told her: “We are getting a raw deal. This can’t be correct”.
“You keep on taking illegal decisions and we can’t sit back and every time you make illegal decisions, we have to go to court”.
Members from the ruling party heckled him, but he carried on.
“I am not going anywhere. The EFF has been elected to be here”.
Malema warned her: “You throw me out, you go to court”.
Addressing Mbete, IFP MP Narend Singh said he believed Zuma had answered the question at the last session in August last year.
“Whether it was satisfactory or not is another issue,” he said.
The majority of the house then voted to continue with a motion to have a set schedule of questions asked.
Following Zuma’s statement on xenophobia, opposition party leaders on the podium condemned attacks on foreign nationals.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba also came out strongly against the attacks, saying most foreign nationals contributed positively to the country.
He said many foreigners healed citizens back to health in hospitals and taught their children.
They also expanded the national fiscus, while still having to send remittances back to their home countries as well as sustaining households in South Africa.
“Consequently, the assumption that all foreign nationals do not pay tax is as preposterous as the assumption that all South Africans do pay tax,” he said.
Gigaba said it was also wrong to claim that all foreign nationals committed crime.
“We must all be very concerned about the repercussions of this criminality as it might spark diplomatic and retaliatory attacks against South Africans in other countries”.
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