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Xenophobia dishonour Pan Africanism ideology

14 Sep 2019 at 11:54hrs | Views
Few weeks ago winds of xenophobia started blowing, leading to loss of life, destruction of property and causing some severe wounds. This time around xenophobia erupted in Gauteng province which is the harbour of South Africa's economy. In South Africa attacking foreign nationals particularly Africans is not the first time to happen in history, it happens in 2008, 2009, 2015, 2017 respectively. It is a seasonal phenomenon.

Xenophobia happened at a time when Africans are preaching the words of Pan Africanism ideology which try to unite Africa. This ideology has its roots in the teachings of founding fathers such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Macheal Samora among others. It is premised on the notion that unity is integral to economic, social, and political success and aims to "unify and uplift" people of African descent. It suggests that the problems and challenges of all African people and countries are intertwined.

Contrary to the doctrine of Pan Africanism, South Africans have decided to wage a brutal attack on fellow Africans who deserted their countries due to economic, political and climatic problems. Majority of immigrates are from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Malawi respectively. South Africa is the home of less than 5 million immigrates in a population of 55 million according to statistics. More so, she deported around 400 000 people in 2017 according to the home affairs data. According to the Migration Data Portal run by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in 2017, South Africa was home to four million immigrants.

South Africa is a signatory to a lot of conventions for migrations and refugees protection. The fact that a country is a signatory to a convention, it is compelled to protect the refugees and immigrants.

Xenophobia has received a lot of condemnation from the corners of the world especially from Africans. A lot hashtags and social media messages have been circulated to remind the conceited, pride and arrogant South Africans about how they were helped by fellow Africans to emancipate them from the chains of apatheid.

The diplomatic crisis

Nigeria has summoned the South Africa's high commission to Nigeria Bobby Moroe to explain what was really happening in South Africa. President Buhari also sent a delegation to South Africa to assess the situation and speak with the relevant authorities about the security of the Nigerian citizens. He further stressed that he was concerned with the situation. Nigerians are blamed by the locals for being involved in selling of drugs and carrying out highly organised crimes in Johannesburg. According to Zweli Ndaba the leader of the Sisonke People's Forum said that they were angered by the high proliferation of drugs in the country spearheaded by the foreign nationals.

The African Union (AU) officials have condemned the violence in the resilient terms. The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has offered its citizens in South Africa a free fight home if they are afraid of becoming targets of xenophobia.

The Zambia High Commission in Pretoria adviced their citizens who drive trucks to desert from working in South Africa, pointing out that, they have encountered physical attacks and threats from their South African counterparts.

Tanzania airways suspended its flight to South Africa on the 6th September as a way to denounce xenophobia. Many African leaders condemned the attacks with the strong terms and advice the authority to bring the perpetrators to justice.

With all these diplomatic squabbles come at a time when South Africa's president will be the chair of the African Union next year. This means a lot is expected from him. As the proverb say "charity begins at home".  

Xenophobia as a political score

The gamut in which xenophobia has been condemned by South African leaders left many with some question marks. The chief justices stressed out that South Africans are not xenophobic but are hungry. They condemn with justification, which make it difficult, complicated and complex to identify the real problem at hand. Whether it is xenophobia, hunger or criminality?

Moreover the South African Police Service denies the violence is targeting foreigners. Police Minister Bheki Cele instead blames "criminal elements that are taking advantage of a volatile situation." The way in which the leaders responded to the problem makes it even more convoluted and multifaceted to solve the xenophobia matrix in South Africa. Xenophobia is benefiting the far right who consider that the national is under siege from the foreigners.

Many prominent figures believe that xenophobia is giving the ruling party a break from being blamed for the economic woes facing the country currently. All the glitches of unemployment are offloaded to the foreigners. According the statistic on the public domain South Africa has 29% unemployment and 55% of the percentage are youth between the ages of 18 to 24. The level of unemployment is definitely worrisome in a viable and rubric economy. According to chief Justice Mogoeng "South African are not xenophobic but they are hungry". Xenophobia is used as scapegoat to the real teething troubles of unemployment that are supposed to be address by government. The general public will be forced to think that foreigners are snatching their jobs.  

What the future of South Africa with Xenophobia?

The government of South Africa especially the president responded in a way that was applauded by many leaders across the globe. He posted a plethora of videos on twitter condemning the perpetrators of violence that claimed the lives of 12 people and left many injured. After all has been said the government officials and leaders of the communities need to identify the root of the problem first then to solve it. Is it Afrophobia, xenophobia or criminality? This will help the government to proffer robust and rubric solutions to the seasonal challenge of xenophobia.

Xenophobia is tarnishing the image of South Africa not only in Africa but across the globe. The ability of the government to protect the foreigners will remain a thorny in the flesh if the concern is not attended as quickly as possible.

Matora Hupile is a student of international relations @ Uludag University in Turkey. He can be contacted @

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Source - Matora Hupile
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