Mosiuoa LekotaOn 17 November we posted the following to our Facebook: “Congress of the People places enormous importance on our country’s National System of Innovation (NSI). Elon Musk, who was born in South Africa in 1971, is at present one of the USA’s leading innovators. He founded PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. What a pity that he was lost to us”.

Like him, thousands of others are making significant and unparalleled contributions abroad. Barney Mthombothi is urging “short-sighted politicians” in South Africa to “make peace with SA’s diaspora”. Indeed they must and very urgently at that.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is actively and systematically connecting with the 35 million people in the Indian diaspora. He sees them as potential investors and contributors in myriad ways to India.

SA’s diaspora must therefore become equally important to us and we should court South Africans abroad in the same way as Modi is doing. Congress of the People believes that South Africans, wherever they are, remain an asset to us. A COPE led government, therefore, would have laid out the red carpet for Elon Musk and all other South Africans who have distinguished themselves overseas. Every person born in South Africa who later became a naturalised citizen of another country should be afforded the right to citizenship in South Africa without hassle. Let us make it east for talent to repatriate itself to our shores.

South Africa needs all the help it can get to help invigorate our stalled economy. Those who have experience and knowledge but are living abroad must have every opportunity to give back to South Africa.

We must uphold the dictum, once a South African always a South African! If we do so, tens of thousands of people everywhere in the world will respond positively to the welcoming gesture. India and Israel have shown how this is done and what enormous benefits accrue to their respective countries from a policy of consistently reaching out..

COPE urges every political party in South Africa to endorse a policy that reaches out to every South African in the diaspora and to help create special conditions for them to remain fully connected with South Africa. Only great good will come out of our attempts to embrace South Africans in the diaspora.

Article by Mosiuoa Lekota, COPE President

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