ANC's 'racial nationalism' creates environment for xenophobia: IRR

Malawian Shakira Bakuwa fled her home in Burnwood informal settlement at the end of March with her husband and three-year-old daughter.
Malawian Shakira Bakuwa fled her home in Burnwood informal settlement at the end of March with her husband and three-year-old daughter.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Political leaders and all South Africans must take a firm public stand against xenophobia and reject the racial nationalism that underpins it.

This is the view of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) following an attack on foreigners in Durban last week.

About 100 Malawians fled to the Sydenham police station in Durban when their unemployed neighbours in the Burnwood informal settlement kicked down their doors and forced them out of their homes. No one was injured or assaulted.

President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned their behaviour and called on law enforcement agencies to identify the perpetrators and bring them to book.

The IRR said the latest outbreak of xenophobia was very serious and every effort should  be made to prevent it from getting out of hand, as happened in 2008.

The institute said the events in Durban reflected the mounting desperation of people - both in South Africa and elsewhere in southern Africa - who were suffering the consequences of an absence of reform and politicians' continued reckless flirtation with racial nationalism.

It said the ANC's continuing commitment to counterproductive policy that was hostile to investment, economic growth and job creation was the primary source of declining socio-economic conditions, which provided fertile ground for resentment and frustration.

"The risks of such frustration leading to acts of violent xenophobia – and, conversely, the proliferation of fake news purporting to show violent attacks, which only increase tensions – are all the greater in an atmosphere of heightened racial nationalism that encourages the scapegoating of sections of society," said the institute.

The IRR said the solution lay in repealing race-based legislation, securing property rights and deregulating the labour market to position South Africa as an investment-friendly economy capable of lifting growth and creating jobs.

The institute's views were supported by the Freedom Front Plus, which said South Africa was in crisis when it came to job creation because the economy was not growing due to the ANC's socialist approach to the economy.

The party said the ANC government was now reaping the fruit of its poor border control and must therefore accept full responsibility for the recent attacks.

"It is unfair that tax payers must pay for illegal immigrants and that tax money is not used for the benefit of the country's own citizens. A country's first priority is to take care of the wellbeing of its own citizens," said the FF Plus.

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