Xenophobia In South Africa

On April 23rd 2015, thousands marched through the streets of Johannesburg’s Central Business District to protest a wave of xenophobic attacks in South Africa. In March 2019, similar attacks were reported, this time in Durban. The locals are targeting foreigners, who they accuse of taking their jobs and being the reason behind the country’s high unemployment rates and poverty. The locals also claim that they want to operate their own shops and they are trying to push out competition by attacking foreigners and looting foreign-owned businesses.

Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)  Julius Malema made a speech addressing the issue, stating that. ” Brothers, we are going to be called “kwerekwere” . Self -hate must come to an end. If it means making losing votes for that, let them lose votes on principles and not on politically experience of wanting to appeal. This country belong to Africans, the same way Nigeria belongs to South Africans. Nigeria is south Africa and South Africa is Nigeria. We as South Africans need to do away with this nonsensical attitude imposed on us by colonisers -the likes of Theresa May and ancestors, that we must dislike each other. We must do away with that. They’re coming here to make sure we hate each other. We are reclaiming our land, saying that our people must get the land.”

Prior to 1994, immigrants from elsewhere faced discrimination and even violence in South Africa. After majority rule in 1994, contrary to expectations, xenophobic incidents increased. Between 2000 and March 2008, 67 people died in what were identified as xenophobic attacks. In May 2008, a series of attacks left 62 people dead. Although 21 of those killed were South African citizens, the attacks were apparently motivated by xenophobia.

The government of South Africa has started working on a 67- page document ,known as the National Action Plan (NAP), a tool aimed at dealing with racism, xenophobia and discrimination in general. The NAP is a culmination of an extensive process which started in 2015 and is derived from the Declaration Programme of Action adopted by the United Nations World Conference Against Racism aimed at promoting and achieving the right to equality while combating racism, discrimination , xenophobia and related intolerance. Economic development, peace and security will prevail in South Africa, Africa and the globe at large as a safer country leads to better development.

Rhoda Nduku
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