South Africans should fight xenophobia

It is increasingly becoming unacceptable to watch how South Africans treat their fellow Africans who happen to be in their country for various reasons. Some South Africans look at these people as if they are enemies and sometimes beat them to death.

It is increasingly becoming unacceptable to watch how South Africans treat their fellow Africans who happen to be in their country for various reasons. Some South Africans look at these people as if they are enemies and sometimes beat them to death.

There is indeed a great problem that can be seen in constant violent assaults on immigrants. The situation creates a number of questions: What does the government think about all these unfortunate violent actions? Is the South African culture becoming xenophobic? Or is government supporting xenophobia?

Certainly the government is against xenophobia and may be it is only doing too little to curb it. I say this because in 2001, President Thabo Mbeki in one of his speeches, vehemently denounced racism and homophobia and called for its immediate end.

What, however, is increasing becoming clear is that organised crime in general, is exacerbating the whole situation in the country. The crime rate in the country has been rated among the highest in the world.

Violence that is motivated by heavy drug use is on the increase and there has been fear that the country may not be able to create a suitable environment to host the 2010 World Cup.

Furthermore, the South Africans and the government seem to be overwhelmed by a big influx of immigrants from neighbouring countries and the rest of the world. The country happens to be a big economic power in the region that was previously isolated during the apartheid regime.

When its doors were opened by the Mandela struggle, a number of Africans who still lived in poor chaotic countries took socio-economic refuge in South Africa. If you have ever been to South Africa I am sure you follow what I am saying and if you have not, then get it.

There are so many Zimbabweans, Malawians, Zambians, Congolese, Nigerians, etc, who permanently live in that country. They came with their skills and relatively higher education and hence suffocated the ill educated South Africans in job opportunities and creation.

The majority of black South Africans had not had chance to go to school. This is what angers the ‘indigenous’ people especially that they are now educated. They are justifiable therefore in that sense because one cannot afford to be jobless in his/her country when strangers are enjoying full employment benefits.

On a dangerous note, however, they are these very foreigners from different corners of the world that have increased the so-called organised crime. South Africa has a bad record of not controlling all its sea harbours, a thing that has allowed in Mafia from the entire world.

Crime and violence in the country is thus not only home-made but also foreign. This is what for example, frightens Joseph Sepp Blatter and his first World Cup in Africa. All these notwithstanding, the people of this country have got to experience some degree of restraint and if necessary apply non-violent measures to claim for their rights.

In this century Africans cannot continue behaving in a very backward way of killing each other. Look at the recent killings of immigrants from Zimbabwe! It is shocking and shameful. This can only be achieved if derogatory naming of foreigners is stopped so that unnecessary animosity between foreigners and the local people is checked.

Foreigners in South Africa are called Amakwerekwere which has a negative connotation. It means people who fled political and economic problems in their own countries. This has made both legitimate asylum seekers and illegal immigrants get the same bad treatment.

What I can tell the people who are meting out mob justice (some South Africans) against the so called poor immigrants, is to make a slight flashback to their past history when they were under the worst regime (apartheid).

Though their violent behaviour could be justified as having come from their past experience, it is not enough reason to support their actions today. They should remember that when they were suffering it was only or mainly the black Africans that were on their side, at least morally. Of course a good number know it and can pass it over to the rest.

Africans all over, young and old, poor and rich grieved the suffering of black people in South Africa. And they offered different support that is on record. It is thus being so myopic to suddenly turn against your yesterday sympathisers in such a violent way that leaves many dead and others undergo intense torture. There is an open chance to use non-violent avenues and hopefully they will be used.

Contact: mugitoni@yahoo.com

 

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