Political parties have struggled to respond to xenophobia. Most recently the ANC manifesto starts by reiterating its dedication to keeping SA free from xenophobia and quotes the president calling for South Africans to be “comfortable with immigrants from other countries”. Then, however, it paints undocumented immigrants as criminals and security risks, and specific proposals incorporate the slur that foreign traders adulterate food. This is not much of an advance on the antimigrant rhetoric spewed by the DA and other political parties. A more constructive approach would start by analysing the evidence on migration: its scale, what drives it and how it affects SA. The UN estimates that the number of foreigners in SA climbed from under 1.5-million in 2005 to 4-million in 2017. They now constitute about 7% of residents, up from 2% a decade ago. Most come from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. About half of all immigrants settle in Gauteng. According to the 2011 census, foreign-born res...

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