On Life, love and Politics

"Random musings about Life, love and Politics. Just my open diary on the events going on in the world as I see it."

Revisiting South Africa Xenophobia June 5, 2009

By
11 February  1991 with the release of  Nelson Mandela after 27 years of
imprisonment for challenging the apartheid regime in his country; 
south Africans saw the dawn of a new era which was believed to mark the
end to all senseless killings known by its western appellations as
xenophobia,
Before 11 February 1991, South Africa, which had lived
through a string of events considered to be discriminatory in nature,
saw blood spill as rival factions stood up against each other under the
white minority rule Hope for the future looked dashed as critics were
either killed or exiled from the country but one man though under
detention remained glued to his convictions that the old order will one
day give way.

Historians agree that the courage of the last south African
apartheid ruler, Frederick De Klerk ,in releasing Nelson Mandela from
jail was the biggest blow that forced the apartheid regime to collapse.

With
the new openness orchestrated by the collapse of the apartheid regime
and the first free and fair elections that ushered Mandela to power.
South Africa became a veritable destination for immigrants from all
over the world. The mass influx of these immigrants precipitated a wave
of spiral violence beyond inestimable proportion. The underlined reason
was the fight for scarce resources and the available jobs that locals
knew had to be theirs.

By the month of May 2008, long after the
fall of the apartheid regime, South Africans woke up to newspaper
reports of horrifying pictures of a man set ablaze by fellow human
beings. This definitely suggested a deep and fundamental failure of the
country’s moral compass as the killings and destructions later swept
across the country with devastating results.

From some South
African newspaper reports and expert views from the human sciences
research council in the hotspots of violence, four main indicators
account for the spill over. A lack of faith in the government’s
capacity to deliver services, unhappiness over migration policy that is
corrupt, unregulated and out of control, competition for housing and
jobs with a staggering unemployment rate among 16 to 30 year olds and
hardship arising from fuel and food prices.

People today accuse
the South African government to have failed to prepare the minds of its
subjects for the coming challenges of immigration. The government
argues that the problem of a democratic South Africa having the
potential to be Africa’s engine for growth and development and
therefore a magnet for people seeking jobs and opportunities was seen.

In
1996, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the first democratically elected
minister for home affairs put in place a four man team headed by 
James  Wilnot to come out with a green paper  on immigration by may
1997. The white paper turned out to be a reasonable document widely
appreciated by all. It later gave birth to immigration act of 2002
which saw the creation of a specialist unit called the Immigration
Advisory Board, IAB.

The IAB took off ready to implement the
works of the white paper and gathered around her highly qualified
members. But not too long, the IAB was at variance with some ministers
and the lofty programmes were abandoned.  South Africans were then
muscled against the immigrant and refugee population and it exploded
into xenophobia.

That notwithstanding, the South African
government believes in the laws of the land as it states in one of the
articles of the constitution…”no one, whether in this country,
legally or not can be deprived of his or her basic or fundamental
rights and cannot be treated as less human. The fact of being an alien
or being without legal status does that mean that one is fair game to
all manner of exploitation or violence or to criminal, arbitrary or
inhuman treatment. Foreigners in our midst are entitled to the support
and defense of our law and constitution.

By Kowac Bandolo

 

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