As part of Parliament’s oversight function of holding the Executive (Cabinet: President, Deputy President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers), Members of Parliament (MPs) can ask questions to the Executive.


Other oversight mechanisms include for example: An MP asking questions either in the caucus, study group, in the National Assembly (NA), etc. MPs can also ask questions to the relevant Minister and suggest topics for debate in the National Assembly and also ask the Minister in the National Assembly to make a ministerial statement. The rules of Parliament allow a Minister to make an executive statement about a particular policy.


Yesterday, the Deputy President (DP) responded to questions from MPs in the NA. I highlighted one of the questions, on my Facebook page, Zelna Jansen Consultancy (6 March 2017) posed by the Rev K R J Meshoe (ACDP):

Whether, in light of his (DP) responsibility for social cohesion and as patron of the Moral Regeneration Movement, the Government is considering any measures in communities afflicted with serious civil unrest due to civil protests, xenophobia or gang and drug related violence in order to restore social cohesion; if not, why not; if so, what measures?


The DP responded as follows:




There are several factors that contribute to the civil unrest that we have witnessed in our country at various times over the last few years.


The problems of xenophobic violence, violent protest and gangsterism manifest in an environment of widespread poverty, high unemployment and stark inequality.  They are exacerbated by geographical dislocation, corruption, poor social services and competition for scarce resources.


Government’s response to these challenges is therefore multi-faceted and multi-pronged. The response involves not only the organs of the state, but also civil society formations, community groupings and individual citizens.


This approach is well demonstrated in government’s new national strategy against gangsterism, which was approved by Cabinet on 1 March 2017.


In developing the strategy, government undertook a diagnostic process which confirmed that gangsterism is rooted in socio-economic conditions, and is therefore not merely a law enforcement issue.


The strategy places communities at the centre of efforts to prevent and combat gangsterism.


It aims to empower communities by addressing human development, social cohesion, unemployment, poverty and inequality.


It prioritises social partnerships with civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders.

It aims to prevent gangsterism through improved spatial design and creating safe living spaces for communities.


These strategies will be implemented alongside effective law enforcement strategies, upholding the rule of law and maintaining the integrity and efficacy of the criminal justice system.


A comprehensive inter-sectoral implementation plan for the strategy has been finalised, engagement with stakeholders is underway, and implementation at the security cluster level has begun.


A similar approach has been taken in responding to xenophobic violence.  This requires interventions at a policy level, through community engagement, and through crime combatting and prevention.  Guided by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration chaired by Minister Radebe, a multi-pronged strategy is underway.


South Africa’s immigration and refugee policy is being reviewed.  The better management of refugees through, among other things, the establishment of asylum processing centres closer to the country's northern borders, is being explored.


Another area is the development of an integration policy for foreign nationals living legally in South Africa and ongoing, sustained dialogue with representatives of immigrant communities.


Through Operation Fiela, the security cluster has undertaken intensive crime combatting and prevention operations targeting hot-spot areas in all provinces.


This has taken place alongside briefings to councillors on their role in preventing attacks; engagement with churches, NGOs, political parties, traditional organisations and community based structures; engagement with immigrant communities; and public campaigns to prevent attacks on foreign nationals.


At the same time, government continues to work against xenophobia, racism, sexism and other related intolerances through izimbizo, community conversation and campaigns.


Programmes range from electronic media campaigns by Brand SA on the values of the Constitution, to community conversations on social cohesion organised by the Department of Arts and Culture, to anti-xenophobia campaigns organised by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.


Underpinning all this work is government’s programme to grow the economy, create jobs, tackle poverty and reduce inequality.  The task of fostering social stability and cohesion falls on all our shoulders. We need to work together to address both the causes and the manifestations of unrest.


As we do so, we must stand united against all forms of criminal behaviour, racism, sexism and xenophobia.  We must ensure that all people, regardless of where they come from, are treated with dignity and respect.


I thank you.”