“South Africa is a country with huge amounts of tension in terms of the underperformance of its economy,” said Mbeki.
“We have a 40 per cent unemployment rate among Africans and 30 per cent unemployment rate amongst coloured [people] which are the two largest populations in this country.”
Mbeki warns that with those levels of unemployment, the country is bound to have tensions, political and social instability with locals venting their anger and frustrations on foreigners.
He concurred that the country was moving towards an ‘Arab Spring’ uprising largely because the population was highly dependent on the urban economy which was completely commercialised.
“The country needs to have an economy that creates employment because we dont have the cushion of peasant agriculture like other regional economies,” he added.
According to Mbeki, about 50 per cent of people between the ages of 15-24 years are unemployed with the rest of Africa having about 11 per cent which was resulting in criminal activities and instability as these young people had nothing to occupy themselves with.
Mbeki said the recent deployment of the military and police quell rebellions was not going to solve the social problems the country was grappling with.
“We have had the military deployed to the townships before, using the tactics employed by the National Party is not going so solve the challenges the country is facing, this will not solve the problems creating unrest,” he said.
Deshan Govender, managing executive for large corporations at Vodacom said business needed to contibute to the fight against the recent spate of xenophobia as this was having an impact and doing business in the country.
South African Chamber of Commerce chairman Vusi Khumalo said xenophobia needed to end as long term effects would hurt the economy and undermine the concept of ubuntuwhich South Africa was known to stand for