Opinion

Xenophobia: violence is not a solution, let's talk

Xenophobia: violence is not a solution, let's talk
The world is watching as South Africa makes a mockery of the wonderful African concept of Ubuntu.

What is particularly difficult to stomach is how the ANC government stands by and allows the looting of shops and attacks on foreigners in Gauteng to escalate. With running battles and burning shops, our streets look more like the war zones we are used to reading of in far-off places.

We have a police force that is either totally incompetent or, worse, standing by complacently and watching the descent into lawlessness, only to drive to the scene once the smouldering shops are empty and bodies lie in the streets.

The government has failed to ­handle this situation on several levels. It failed to anticipate the attacks - a failure of the intelligence services - and it failed to react fast enough once the attacks started. Then the government’s International Relations Department failed to react to what quickly descended into a diplomatic disaster, threatening bilateral and regional agreements.

But our African neighbours have not been slow to react, Zambia withdrawing from a scheduled and highly anticipated match against Bafana Bafana, and condemnation of the violence coming from various other African countries.

Worse, SA business operations in other parts of Africa are being attacked in retaliation, and locals travelling through Africa could also be at risk.

While fully justified in the concern for their countrymen’s welfare, it is somewhat hypocritical of these nations to criticise South Africa when their people are fleeing their lands in droves for a better life here. At the same as we ask our people to display Ubuntu, we ask those who settle here not to disrespect another man’s house.

Xenophobia in South Africa results from a toxic mixture of ignorance, jealousy and a deep economic crisis, which locals wrongly attribute to the influx of foreign nationals, who they also wrongly blame for high crime levels.

South Africa is evidently in desperate need of help to deal with the situation. What is needed is constructive debate and discussion which includes help and advice from other nations which have experienced the same problem.

There are no winners if we kill foreigners here, and they kill us in their lands.