The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) condemns the recent spate of xenophobic violence. Shahied Daniels, CE of SAIPA, says that the violence not only damages the democratic society we are so painstakingly trying to build, but severely tarnishes South Africa’s international image at a time when we are in desperate need of direct foreign investment and entrepreneurial skills to alleviate chronic unemployment.
“These xenophobic attacks and the criminality associated with them are not only destroying the lives of foreign nationals who are merely seeking to make a living by providing services to communities. They are also impacting the economy’s ability to produce the jobs South Africa needs so desperately,” Daniels says. “SAIPA members who provide accounting and consulting services to businesses in affected areas are also being hard hit. Furthermore, SAIPA members who are building businesses outside our borders stand to lose credibility in those markets simply because they are South African.”
SAIPA believes that fellow-Africans working in South Africa should be welcomed for the skills and entrepreneurialism that they bring, and afford them the same dignity and protection that South Africans enjoy elsewhere on the continent.
“At the same time, of course, people working here illegally need to be returned to their countries of origin safely and respectfully,” says Daniels. “These attacks do point to the fact that many communities feel that our border-control mechanisms are not functioning well. The authorities need to demonstrate that they are in control of the borders and that work permits are being issued fairly. In turn, this will demonstrate that housing, medical care and job are not being ‘stolen’ by an uncontrolled flood of illegal emigrants.”
SAIPA calls on all other professional accountancy bodies to condemn collectively and unreservedly all forms of xenophobia and associated criminality. “As a collective, we must insist that state immediately deploys all the means at its disposal to rid our country of this scourge. Perpetrators should be brought to book, and educational programs developed and implemented to urgently root out this anti-democratic and criminal behaviour,” Daniels says. “As law-abiding citizens of a genuine democracy, we should never allow evil to prosper by not speaking out.”
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