Mosiuoa Lekota. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Mosiuoa Lekota. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

Congress of the People (Cope) president Mosiuoa Lekota says the ANC government is allowing foreigners to flood SA and called for the introduction of refugee camps for foreigners.

He 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.

The issue of foreign nationals is a very sensitive topic in SA and there have been numerous xenophobic attacks and looting of shops owned by foreigners.

Lekota said that SA — even during periods when there had been a high influx of foreigners‚ particularly from neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, who were fleeing political instability — had never housed foreigners in refugee camps. He said 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 that 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?” he asked.

Lekota was sharing a stage with DA leader Mmusi Maimane‚ Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald‚ African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) chairwoman Jo-Ann Downs and Johannesburg transport member of the mayoral committee Nonhlanhla Mukhuba from the IFP.

This is not the first time in recent weeks that Lekota has made headlines with his controversial comments‚ especially on the land issue. Maimane said his party did not share the same stance as 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.”

Downs shared a similar view and distanced the ACDP 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‚” she said.

Downs said that the trafficking of women‚ children and men who are used as slave labour was the real issue.