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Publication Details

Reference
Meth, Oliver  (2008) South Africa will risk hosting 2010 . Centre for Civil Society : -.

Summary
Between resounding assertions of the unity of the continent and this behaviour of the masses which has its inspiration in their leaders, many different attitudes may be traced. We observe a permanent see-saw between African unities which fades quicker and quicker into the mists of oblivion, and a heart-breaking return to chauvinism in its most bitter and detestable form (Fanon, 1990: 126)

The recent xenophobic attacks by Black South Africans on black refugees seeking asylum in South Africa, is in my opinion, another own goal by South Africa.

By all accounts, South African society has experienced a massive problem of xenophobia since its liberation in 1994. This xenophobia is directed overwhelmingly at Africans from all over the continent while some nationalities, such as Nigerians and Mozambicans, are singled out, particularly in the press, as being associated with illegal activities (drugs and illegal immigration respectively).

An increase in xenophobic hostility directed at those who are deemed to be non-citizens, amounts to a denial of rights and entitlements, expressed through prejudice and stereotypes. It manifests itself through agitation to and actions of obvious exclusion, hostility and violence against people just because of what is deemed to be in the specific context, their foreign status. The fact that this exclusion and discrimination impacts on South African citizens also, simply because foreign status is declared on the basis of racist stereotypes, suggests that the issue is not only one applicable to foreigners.

It is a form of discrimination closely related to racism and liable to affect anyone or any group which for whatever reason is considered non-indigenous. Migrants who come to the country for political or economic reasons (the two are often impossible to differentiate) are regularly associated, particularly in the state discourse emanating from the press, with crime and criminal activities and their attempts to secure economic survival is criminalised.

This discriminatory treatment is justified on the basis of the economic and social crisis facing South Africa where around half of the population live in poverty. This has resulted in the deepening social exclusion of and violence towards foreigners.

South Africans need to denounce the violence. Blaming those that are different from us because of skin colour, nationality and language when things don’t go right, is stupid or either ignorant.

We must ensure that victims will be protected and criminals punished. We must demand effective government action, more than mere expressions of concern and regret. There must be recognition that among the principal causes are anger and frustration and the dismal social conditions - and resolute concrete steps to correct these conditions.

Hostility to foreigners will flourish where there is desperation and desperate hardships. These xenophobic attacks undermine international struggles and solidarity. The underlying cause is the intolerable levels of poverty, unemployment, crime and the shortage of housing in poor communities.

The government's failure to admit the frustrations of people demands a serious response.

Moreover, President Thabo Mbeki has encouraged Robert Mugabe’s thugs and government, through his “Quiet Diplomacy”, hence causing more immigration to South Africa.

Is it time for South Africans to appeal to FIFA to move the 2010 World Cup from South Africa to a worthier host nation?

The current wave of xenophobic attacks by black South Africans against foreign black nationals seeking refuge, and the unacceptable levels of violent crime in our country, make South Africa an unworthy host for the 2010 World Cup soccer event. The revenue that the 2010 World Cup will bring to South Africa will not be liberating those who are oppressed in Africa, but merely empowering further oppression of its people.

FIFA should reconsider hosting the 2010 World Cup here, in the interests of upholding Human Rights and the Freedom of oppressed people in Africa.

Let us make an international campaign to move the 2010 world cup from South Africa for the following reasons:

1.The country has been engulfed in xenophobic attacks for the past few weeks. Innocent souls have lost their lives. Thousands of families have been displaced. Women are being raped. The government is paying lip-service to this situation.

2. These people who are being killed and raped and displaced are building world cup infrastructure. An engineer from Zimbabwe who was recruited in Harare to work for 2010 projects was shot dead in Germiston. He was working for the Gautrain project which is building transport infrastructure for 2010.

3. Two Mozambique involved in the refurbishment of Soccer City were killed in Alexandra on Sunday last week. FIFA can not just watch this and leave it alone. These people are being killed for doing FIFA work.

4. The 2010 tournament is being held for all countries. Will such a society host foreigners when they are already carrying out an ethnic cleansing of foreigners? Should the world accept this?

What kind of government invites people to its country and then leaves them at the mercy of its thugs? South Africans should call for a 2010 boycott until the state sorts out the problems behind xenophobia.

(Oliver Meth is a community scholar at CCS.)


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