South African Party Politics And Xenophobia


Dr Savo Heleta is a researcher at the Nelson
Mandela University, and he writes. As the campaigning for the 2019 National Elections
in South Africa gathered momentum, all kinds of xenophobic statements were uttered by most
political party leaders, who saw anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and Afrophobic rhetoric as a way
to attract votes. Through blatant lies, and scare-mongering, foreigners are blamed for
many of South Africa’s woes and social ills. All political parties are guilty. In a society
where violence against foreign nationals is pervasive, and xenophobic sentiments are common,
irresponsible leaders continue to manufacture an atmosphere of crisis. Politicians claim, that foreigners are flooding
South Africa, and undermining the country’s security, stability and prosperity. Yet, according
to the 2011 census, South Africa is not overwhelmed with immigrants, with some 2.2 million international
migrants, about 4% of the population, in the country in 2011. Statistic South Africa Community
Survey in 2016, puts the number of foreign born people at 1.6 million, out of the population
of 55 million at the time. While there are a number of methodological issues with the
Statistic South Africa Community Survey, it would not be surprising if this figure is
correct, especially as the Department of Home Affairs has deported close to 400,000 foreign
nationals since 2012. South Africa is one of the most unequal
countries in the world. More than half of the population lives in poverty. The inequality
and hardships experienced by the majority of South Africans, are rooted in the country’s
colonial and apartheid legacy, as well as the post-1994 failures to transform the economy
and society. Yet, listening to many politicians, one gets the impression that it is all the
fault of foreigners. Both the African National Congress-led government,
and the Democratic Alliance, want to build higher fences at the border, to prevent foreigners
from coming in and undermining South Africa’s socio-economic development and security. Politicians
claim that foreigners are the main reason for high crime rates. Immigrants are blamed
for the hardships experienced by poor South Africans, and for over-running South Africa’s
cities. In 2017, South Africa’s Deputy Police Minister
claimed, that the city of Johannesburg was taken over by foreigners, with 80% of the
city controlled by foreigners. If this is not urgently stopped,  he added, the entire
country “could be 80% dominated by foreign nationals, and the future President of South
Africa could be a foreign national”. The mayor of Johannesburg often speaks about
“our people”, and “those people”, referring to the foreigners, who make South
Africa into a “lawless society”. The Economic Freedom Fighters has questioned,
whether those born outside the country, even the people born abroad to South African parents,
can ever be trusted or regarded as “proper South Africans”. While speaking about their plans to run a
coalition government at the national level, if they get enough votes in 2019, the Democratic
Alliance, COPE and the right-wing Freedom Front Plus, promised to place foreigners in
camps, rather than letting them roam free in South African cities. The African Basic
Movement, a newly registered political party, has called for all foreigners to leave South
Africa by the end of 2018. The party claims that foreigners plan to take over the country
in a few years, and thus must be stopped by any means. They also want to make it illegal
for foreigners to marry South African citizens. The Democratic Alliance is approaching the
next elections with a new nationalistic slogan, “All South Africans First”. None of this anti-immigrant rhetoric is based
on evidence. Research shows that immigrants do not steal jobs from South Africans, and
that foreigners are not responsible for high levels of crime. The majority of foreign nationals,
also do not receive any support from the government, such as social grants, and have to fend for
themselves for survival. But facts do not seem to matter in South African politics.
Why would politicians choose to face the rightful anger millions of poor and hopeless South
Africans, when they can revert to anti-immigrant rhetoric, and shift blame to those who have
no voice, the people who make up between three to four percent of the population? If, or rather, when xenophobic violence explodes
and immigrants are beaten, displaced, tortured, killed and, or burned alive, while their property
and possessions are looted, as has happened many times in the past, the politicians will
say this has nothing to do with xenophobia. They always say it is just criminality. The
politicians will take no responsibility for fuelling xenophobic sentiment. Denialism will
be the order of the day. While the opposition parties spout xenophobic
rhetoric and bigotry, the African National Congress-led government has already developed,
and approved anti-poor and anti-African immigration plans. The government sees poor and unskilled
African migrants, and asylum seekers as threats to the country’s security and prosperity.
The White Paper on International Migration, approved by the government in March 2017,
separates immigrants into “worthy” and “unworthy” individuals. Foreigners who
have skills and money are welcome to come to the country, and can stay in South Africa
permanently. Poor and unskilled immigrants, who are predominantly from the African continent,
will be prevented from coming to, and staying in South Africa by any means. One of the most controversial aspects of the
White Paper on International Migration, is the plan to establish asylum seeker processing
centres. These centres will be used for detention of asylum seekers, while their applications
are being processed by the South African authorities. The use of blanket detention to manage international
migration, would be in breach of the South African Constitution. South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa,
recently strongly rejected the proposals to build detention centers for African migrants
in North Africa, aimed at curbing migration to Europe. Ramaphosa said that this is “akin
to creating prisons for the people of our continent, and I can’t see how African leaders
can accede to that”. Yet, the Ramaphosa government plans to follow similar proposals
in South Africa. It is important to remember, that the large
majority of those who reject, or dislike foreigners in South Africa, are anti-black immigrant
and Afrophobic. White foreigners and immigrants do not experience xenophobia in South Africa.
In South Africa, xenophobia is reserved, mainly for poor black foreigners from the African
continent. Xenophobic and Afrophobic bigotry remains
the order of the day in the “Rainbow Nation”, and is likely to get uglier. We will continue
to hear the politicians put the blame on foreign migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, for
many of the social ills and hardships experienced by the majority of South Africans. It is normal to expect the South African political
leadership to do better, but unfortunately, that is not the case, at least not yet. Please check in the description box below,
for the links to the sources of this report. Thanks for watching. Please comment, like,
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Comments
  1. I don't want to jump for conclusion, every attack it has how is started.why us in limpopo we have peace with our brothers.

  2. Why should they come to our country in large numbers?Why cant they exploit economic opportunities in their own coutries?

  3. South African is violent country wishe them dont like to see fellow African brothers no one take thia job wee all sef employer.

  4. There should not worry. Because like me am A Nigeria leveling in South African i marry to South America women and wee have one child. What monst i du now?

  5. We don't need to go to South Africa the South Africans they love their white people I hope all the African countries surrounding South Africa will band every South African form they're country they have been brainwashed by the White apartheid

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