‘The reality is most negative things we hear about immigrants are not true’

With election season in full swing, one of the key areas of contestation is political party’s tough immigration policies.
In his budget speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni noted that immigrants have played a significant role in the success of some of the largest economies in the world.
Political analyst at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Professor Steven Friedman wrote a provocative piece on the Business Day on Wednesday.
Speaking to Bongani Bingwa, Friedman cites that hostility towards immigrants is harmful to the economy and that Mboweni is the only public figure who seems willing to say this.
If you speak to people about South Africa, many say it is depressing – we have immigration, a lack of skills. And the logical answer to that is that if people with skills want to come to the country, let them come to the country.
— Professor Steven Friedman, Political analyst – UJ
Sadly we don’t do that, he says.
We are entering election season and political parties are competing with each other to show who is tough on immigrants, and when you call them out, they say, no it is the people that want that.
— Professor Steven Friedman, Political analyst – UJ
My view is that if the only message that the public hears from the politicians is that immigrants are bad, you can’t blame the public for assuming that when things go bad, it is the fault of the immigrants.
— Professor Steven Friedman, Political analyst – UJ
He adds that it is the responsibility of public figures to portray an accurate picture of immigrants in South Africa.
The reality is most negative things we hear about immigrants are not true.
— Professor Steven Friedman, Political analyst – UJ

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