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Congress of the People had warned this Government over many months that the people of our country were getting restive and restless. President Zuma did not take these warnings seriously.

What we see happening today in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, among other places, arises directly from a government waiting to react to situations rather than taking matters in hand proactively. This is why incidets of violence spin out of control so quickly. This is why we are witnessing ugly scenes of Africans attacking Africans and why Kwa-Zulu-Natal turned so quickly into a war zone. That is why what started in Durban also spread so quickly to other parts of our country.

It is the malaise that the President manifests which seriously imperils all of us – not only foreign nationals. Our destinies are inextricably intertwined with theirs. We are, therefore, just as affected when they are affected. An injury to them is an injury to all of us.

It’s a sad day to see some African countries busy preparing to repatriate their citizens because of what happened. The image of our country is now badly damaged internationally. It is, actually, in tatters. Had the President listened and acted on our timely warnings, the crisis would have been averted and our reputation as a country would not have been sullied.

Even now, the President is communicating with those who are involved in the violence through TV. The government is acting like fire fighters, trying to douse the flames of hatred for now. Even now, government is not actively addressing the cause of the xenophobia and the unrest. The President Zuma has learnt nothing. He lacks the energy that the situation demands.

The shock generated by these attacks on foreign nationals will reverberate throughout the world and will adversely affect the inflow of direct investments into our country. We stand to lose so much through the short-sighted hatred that showed itself.

The ANC government stands severely indicted for failing our country, for failing Nelson Mandela and for failing the entire continent.

COPE believes that strong and stinging criticism must come with positive solutions.

We therefore call for united action. We urge the President to request the Presiding Officers of Parliament to constitute a high-powered, multi-party committee of parliamentarians, immediately, to investigate the concerns and problems of communities where foreign nationals have established themselves as business owners. This problem is bigger than any one political party can resolve. All of us are badly affected and seriously shaken. All of us must work tirelessly to find a lasting solution. We hope the President will listen to us and to all other concerned parties this time and stir himself into assertive action.

Issued by Dennis Bloem on behalf of COPE, Dennis Bloem is Cope’s national spokesperson

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