Ramaphosa: Fake news fuelled much of recent xenophobic unrest

Image credit: Twitter/The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said fake news fuelled much of the recent spate of xenophobia in parts of Gauteng.

Ramaphosa was speaking during an “Invest in Africa’s Space: Conversation with African Heads of State and Government” session at the ongoing Africa Investment Forum on Monday in Johannesburg.

He said, “The problem that often happens with all this is that fake news becomes the order of the day. In our situation, much of what happened was fuelled by fake news.”

‘South Africans are not xenophobic’

He cited pictures of “people jumping out of burning buildings” being circulated on social media as an example, saying the alleged incident happened in another country but was being purported to have happened in South Africa.

Ramaphosa explained that this fuelled reactions in other countries, which necessitated sending out special envoys to give a proper account of the situation.

The President said, “Inherently, South Africans are not xenophobic. The government of South Africa is irrevocably committed against xenophobia. We abhor it.”

He nevertheless acknowledged that while South Africa has welcomed foreign nationals fleeing difficult political and economic conditions in their countries, South Africans often want to “protect their own self-interest” when the local economy worsens.

In August and September, a number of shops, both local and foreign-owned, were looted and damaged during the unrest.

12 people lost their lives, two of them foreign nationals, according to the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Hundreds of foreign nationals subsequently decided to return to their countries of origin.

Africa Investment Forum 2019

According to its website, the Africa Investment Forum is “Africa’s investment market place – a multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary platform dedicated to advancing projects to bankable stages, raising capital, and
accelerating the financial closure of deals.”

The annual event kicked off on Monday in Sandton and will conclude on Wednesday, 13 November. This year’s theme is “Accelerating an Integrated Marketplace.”

In addition to President Ramaphosa, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo are also in attendance.

It comes on the back of the South Africa Investment Conference 2019 held last week, where Ramaphosa raised about R363 billion in investment pledges.

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