How To Contain Xenophobia

Restore The State Of State Institutions To Stop Xenophobia

Fourteen years post 1994 [2008] democratic dispensation, trends of Xenophobia erupted in South Africa. This occurred at a time when the economy of the country was heading towards its first recession since attaining democratic rule. The worse visible growing gap between the rich and the poor could not be ignored. At the time, the Government of the day accentuated that South Africans are not Afro-phobic or Xenophobic. Everything necessary was done to calm the situation. A few years down the line, under the same political party in March 2015 another disturbing Xenophobic havoc erupted mainly due to an utterance by the Zulu king, King Zwelithini. “We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries,” Zwelithini said. “The fact that there were countries that played a role in the country’s struggle for liberation should not be used as an excuse to create a situation where foreigners are allowed to inconvenience locals.  I know you were in their countries during the
struggle for liberation. But the fact of the matter is you did not set up
businesses in their countries.”

In response to this inflammatory and ungarded remarks,  people were killed and South Africans were blamed for refusing to live hand in hand with fellow South Africans. There were also calls saying the King was not the cause of the unfortunate situation. It became an event that no leader has agreed to take responsibility for.

Yet again in 2017 there is another uproar and this time it is directed to a
specific foreign national group, the Nigerians. One thing is clear, the
Government of the day is failing its people and yet expect them to carry
principle over the reality of their daily situation. It looks like South Africans are loosing their patience!

South Africans continue to celebrate the success of black middle class which is minor as compared to those who remain poor. The ruling party continues to remind South Africans that they brought them freedom but the poor, whose lives have not been changed, are tired and their only hope is to take the law into their own hands. They do this with the hope that their living condition will change. A fallacy which is far from reality!

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Malusi Gigaba recently called on South Africans to stop taking the law into their own hands. Instead he called on them to use state institutions to report whatever complaint they might have. BUT the reality is that our people have lost all hope in public institutions and find comfort in taking the law into their own hands. These are a people who expect plenty from their leaders and are saddened at the state of affairs.

Informed by high level of unemployment, corruption, low wages and non patriotism among citizens it is very easy for the corrupt to undermine systems and use law enforcers to accept bribes. These bribes are used to ensure nepotism, corruption prevail which means silencing against injustice will continue.

Part of stopping the rot in society and addressing concerns of South Africans is to ensure State institutions are restored and respect for the law is upheld. The law must not know color, race, nationality and leadership.

In their nature, regardless of Nationality Africans are loving people. However, where there is no law, drug lords will thrive and law lovers will also thrive taking the law into their hands.

Both are victims of the rotten nature of the state. They represent a sad
reality that unless leaders change their behavior towards the law, the
worse can happen. South Africans are not fighting their fellow brothers
because they hate them, it is a question of survival of the fittest and
with their frustration the nearest and weakest link is a Black Foreign

Rhulani Thembi Siweya is the founder of Africa Unmasked and NEC member of the ANCYL. She writes in her personal capacity.


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