by Ndumiso Mlilo
JOHANNESBURG, June 20 (Xinhua) -- South Africa has adopted multi-pronged approaches to tackle the scourge of xenophobia through community dialogues and soccer matches between foreigners and locals, among other interventions, a government official said here on Monday.
These various measures are aimed at enhancing social cohesion and nation building, Poso Makhado, manager of community mobilization and empowerment at national Department of Social Development, told Xinhua, noting that soccer legends from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana and a team of Somalians joined recent soccer matches.
He condemned "opportunistic individuals" who force foreigners to pay protection fees, saying poverty, inequality and unemployment in South Africa force some local people to resort to crimes and foreigners happen to be the "soft targets."
Some locals are also complaining that there are many undocumented foreigners coming into the country, he added.
South Africa records more than 50 xenophobic incidents every year, a result of competition for limited job and business opportunities, according to Silindile Mlilo, a doctoral researcher and project manager at African Center for Migration and Society of University of Witwatersrand.
However, International Organization of Migrants' Chief of Mission in South Africa Lily Sanya believed that migration is beneficial if well managed.
She suggested setting quotas on migrant workers in the region so that countries can exchange skilled personnel and manage migration, adding that exchange of skills would result in economic growth.
The South African government is also in discussion with Zimbabwe on how to tackle xenophobia.
"We were raising awareness that we are one people ... We are concerned, alarmed and stressed about these attacks against African brothers," said Zimbabwe's Ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi. .