MINISTER of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu addresses the SA Institute for International Affairs gathering in Joburg. Jacoline Schoonees/DIRCO News
Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu said South Africa could not afford have criminality and xenophobia.

She was addressing a packed audience at an SA Institute for International Affairs gathering in Joburg this week.

“We have a serious problem,” she said.

Sisulu said that whatever the definition was of what was happening, the government would deal with it.

“No foreigner should perish on our soil while we hold the position (of a non-permanent member) on the UN Security Council,” Sisulu said, acknowledging that South Africa was representing more than itself on the council.

“About 60% of matters discussed in the UN Security Council affect Africa, and we need to be a part of the decisions taken. Our voice is a strong one and we take a moral position,” Sisulu said.

South Africa takes up its position as chair of the AU next year, and Sisulu acknowledged that the country could not afford to have criminal and xenophobic situations breaking out, saying it was not good for the country’s image.

Sisulu was due to hold a second meeting with African ambassadors and ministers of home affairs and police today to address the root causes of the attacks against foreign nationals.

High school learner Sibusiso Mazumba, dressed in his striped school blazer, asked Sisulu about what research was being done by her department to establish what was root cause of the xenophobia.

Sisulu was so impressed by the question that Mazumba was invited to attend the discussions with African ambassadors.

Sisulu said her department was recalibrating South Africa’s foreign policy and had been engaged in a process of self-introspection.

Asked what the department had done to implement the ANC resolution to downgrade relations with Israel, Sisulu said: “We have a programme put in place. We no longer have an ambassador in Israel, and our mission is operating with a liaison officer.”

The department clarified that it would not be replacing the ambassador, and that the liaison office in Tel Aviv would have no political, trade or development co-operation mandate.

Sisulu acknowledged “we have been slow in getting to where we want to go.