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Publication Details

Reference
Rita ,Kufandarerwa (2017) Xenophobia, Immigration and SA. News24 : -.

Summary
Rita T.M. Kufandarerwa (MyNews24, News24) 01 January 2017

The anti-immigrant sentiment saw the United States elect a very odd and unlikely president.
The rise of nationalism saw the British voting to leave the European Union.
The latent return of Fascism saw the resignation of David Cameron as the UK prime minister.
Migration using unorthodox means across the Mediterranean brought about the militarization of many European Borders.
Tragedies in the form of drowning in the Mediterranean Sea were a key testimonial to the dangerous levels that migration has reached.
Politicians like Marine Le Pen in France are rousing the anti-immigrant sentiment which could see France exiting the European Union like Britain.
In Germany, Angela Merkel is under severe pressure from her citizens because “she went soft on immigration”.
Not only in Europe has the world seen a growing abhorrence of migrants, all the countries that have better economic climates have expressed a similar hatred.
Migration which is a sure result of globalization is now an anathema shaking the whole world and to some extent threatening to tear the world into two.

Let us bring this discussion home to Africa. Africa the land of hope and realizable dreams as it is known.
Africa has seen a migration pattern that is unique in that immigrants from all over the continent are irresistibly attracted to South Africa.
South Africa is a young vibrant democracy known for its liberal constitution and pluralism.
In the heart of Johannesburg, one can see the domination of “foreign nationals” as they are popularly known.
From running small boutiques to street vending, the foreign nationals come with a clear objective to make money and survive.
Many foreigners have come to close proximity with death in their war-ridden home countries and in South Africa they find peace and tranquility.
The foreign nationals, undeniably economic migrants have been receptacles of contempt from the native South Africans. In 2008,
the media was awash with dehumanizing pictures of slain foreigners. I remember a particular video that left me apoplectic with fear.
A man, my estimation is that he was Congolese- had a burning tyre around his neck while the people around him cheering like maniacs as his life burnt out of him.
For a life to be lost uselessly like that was just an eyesore. The government intervened and sense seemed to have been spoken into the minds of the xenophobic violence perpetrators.
The peace was short-lived when in 2015; xenophobic spats broke out in Alexandra and spread to other areas like a prairie fire.
Sanity and peace prevailed again and the tensions were quelled down. The xenophobic attitude remains etched in the psyche of many South Africans.
State sponsored xenophobia has also been evident in the bolstering of the South African Labour Law were foreigners will not be hired over a South African.
The principal reasoning behind many xenophobic attacks and attitudes is that foreign nationals “steal jobs from locals”.
I will not debate the reasons for xenophobic attacks as it is not the aim of this article and it’s a debate for another day.

The new Johannesburg mayor Mr Herman Mashaba recently made headlines after telling the immigrants who were in Johannesburg “illegally” that their days were numbered.
He received monumental support from the public as they welcomed the removal of illegal immigrants from their city. The minister of Home Affairs,
Mr Malusi Gigaba also seconded the motion by Mr Mashaba and getting much support from the public.
The public explicitly outlined that many immigrants were undesirable as they are involved in many criminal activities.
The rants are accompanied by statistical evidence where many immigrants who did not have the right documentation to be in South Africa were
arrested for many crimes around the city- including the disreputable Rhodes Park Murder.

Mr Mashaba belongs to the Democratic Alliance (DA) which is considered by many as a left wing political party that
advocates for white supremacy (I’m yet to see any empirical evidence of this assertion).
The DA is the only party that has recently come out guns blazing against illegal immigrants.
If the DA continues riding on the anti-immigrant tide, democracy might produce odd results and in 2019 they will be in power.
So strong is the anti-immigrant sentiment that it can propel a leftist political party like the DA into power,
the same way the USA ended up with Donald Trump as the president elect.

My plea to foreign nationals-

Now if it so happens that the DA is propelled into power and illegal immigration is curbed,
South African immigration law is bolstered and border security is intensified- foreign nationals should remember one thing which is that South Africa
did everything it could to help its neighbors. South Africa welcomed many of its neighbors and gave them comfort.
By many world standards, South Africa had a revolving door migration policy to an extent where it was abused. As with any country,
South Africa has its own set of problems that must be dealt with. With an influx of foreigners comes a strain on limited resources.
Resources are finite and as such they should be allocated with caution and priority.
Foreign nationals have to boldly acknowledge that they have their own houses to fix.
Knocking on the South African door is nothing but a temporary solution if they are to ensure economic legacies for their progeny.

My plea to South Africans and the South African government-

South Africa has excellent infrastructure, coveted economic opportunities,
great ecosystems and rich natural resources within its borders-no foreigner is laying any claim on that.
South Africans do not own even a single strand of hair on a foreigner’s head.
South Africans do not have the right to kill foreigners just because they are different from them.
Attacking someone because they have an “otherness” is immoral and definitely leaves a huge moral stain on the records of South Africa as a country.
In its diplomatic and foreign policy, South Africa as a continental leader must approach repressive governments overtly.
South Africa under ANC went with the quiet diplomacy of not confronting dictators directly, an approach which is futile.
A significant number of foreigners in South Africa are escaping repressive dictatorships and failed states which is a root cause that must be carefully analyzed.

In the final analysis, immigration is problem that can no longer be concealed and a thorough-going approach is needed.
With the right mentality from concerned parties, it is a quagmire that can be steered with less damage.
Denying that there is an immigration crisis or unfairly partitioning the blame and responsibilities will be the greatest height of folly!

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