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Opinion / National

Afrophobic attacks in South Africa are real

08 Sep 2019 at 22:22hrs | Views
The current wave of what have come to be termed 'afrophobic or xenophobic attacks' in some parts of Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa have forced those in the corridors of power in Africa to have an introspection on their social, economic and foreign policies.

The recurrence of these attacks by predominantly black South Africans on foreigners brings to question the ability of Africans to be united as one nation. Ordinarily to South Africans, foreigners are none other than immigrants from within Africa who for various reasons are in South Africa. Many of these people live in communities such as Tembisa, Soweto, Rosentenville, Soshanguwe, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville, were most blacks South Africans live.

South Africans claim that foreigners have put a strain on their already insufficient resources, and are taking their jobs in a country also battling to deal with growing youth unemployment. South Africans also feel that foreign migrants whether legal or illegal are also taking their wives, as well as accepting to be exploited at work by employers who now prefer to employ foreigners because they are hardworking and can accept below standard levels of remuneration.

The current wave of attacks are informed by two different agendas. These have emerged from some meetings which have taken place preceding the attacks. It is important to understand the causes of these attacks in order for one to understand the anger which is now being directed on foreigners by South Africans.

The attacks which started in Durban were directed at truck drivers who were accused of being cheap labour. This was followed by attacks in Marabastad, Pretoria were foreign owned shops were looted and destroyed. The foreigners were accused of peddling drugs, promoting prostitution, and house hijacking. Primarily organisers of these marches said they would like to reclaim their communities by getting rid of criminality regardless of nationality.

Communities claimed that Nigerians owned brothels in which young South African and Zimbabwean girls were being used as prostitutes. They questioned why none of the brothels had no young or old Nigerian prostitutes whom they employ. Hence the anger that foreigners are exploiting their (South African) girl children by abducting and forcing them into prostitution. On the other hand the brothel owners say that the young children come to them because they are hungry and want money, hence they create opportunities for them to make money through prostitution.

The fight of criminality in any community is noble and most welcome. This fight does not consider the nationality of the perpetrator but the crime community. However, this noble call to fight criminality was read as support of the reckless call by the Johannesburg DA Mayor Mashaba and other politicians, to get rid of foreigners. While the organisers condemned xenophobia, criminality took advantage of these marches to loot foreign owned shops and attack foreigners.

The marches in Tshwane and Johannesburg against foreigners are regrettable and misguided. Some of the marches are politically motivated seeking to conceal the real cause of the marches. Tshwane as the capital of South Africa is a political hotbed. Allegations are that the marches are trying to divert attention and effort on the fight against corruption which had taken root in the capital.

Further allegations are that the current xenophobic attacks are a creation of people seeking to create a scene which will make political leaders focus on the fight of these xenophobic attacks, at the expense of the many issues arising from various commissions. Others allege that the attacks on foreigners are spirited efforts by President Cyril Ramaphosa's detractors, who would want him to fail at all cost..

In the midst of all this, innocent foreigners are being taken to the altar for frivolous allegations. Whilst some foreigners are perpetrators of the crimes, South Africans should not paint all foreigners with the same brush. Many foreigners are adding value to the economic growth of the country and the least they can get is to be appreciated.

For Zimbabweans, like any other foreigner, in the midst of these attacks, should begin to understand that South Africa is a workplace. Zimbabwe like any other country whose countrymen are affected, should seriously start to look at ways of making sure their people prefer to stay and work in their countries.  

While we appreciate that we need to own companies and get involved in beneficiation, the current economic environment in the country should be improved. As a country we need to work on countering the negative perception the country has attracted over the last decade. This negative perception has made brand Zimbabwe unattractive to investors and business. Coupled with the negative perception has been growing corruption which was taking place everywhere in the country. This cancerous evil, corruption, need to be dealt with decisively in order for the country to attract business investors.

We are our worst enemies if we do not deal with the problems that have caused many Zimbabweans to track down South in search of employment. The efforts by the current President to revive the economy through the Transitional Stabilisation Reform Programme, must be supported by all and sundry to ensure speedy recovery of the economy.

 Afrophobic attacks in South Africa are real and threating. The alleged criminality is real. The involvement of some Zimbabweans in violent crimes is proven. Even though this does not warrant taking the law in the people's hands, for Zimbabwe as a country, it is time to be proactive so that we avoid receiving our people in coffins.

Echoing the words of the late former President, 'Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans', likewise South Africa is for South Africans. It is now time for Zimbabweans in South Africa, to start tracing their footsteps back to Zimbabwe and make meaningful participation in reviving the economy. But more importantly let us make Zimbabwe receptive and accommodative to all its citizens by creating a social, economic and political environment that can nurture its people. The time is now.

Kennedy M. Mandaza
ZANU-PF SA Secretary for Information and Publicity


Source - Kennedy M. Mandaza
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