THE absurd fear of strangers or foreigners is generally termed as xenophobia.
There are various motives that lead to this fear, and it brings out a variety of sentiments that vary from a prejudiced attitude to violence such as the one that is presently taking place in neighbouring South Africa.
It can also be instigated by increase in competition for jobs because of what South Africans usually refer to as invading ‘aliens’ who are daily robbing them of jobs.
But whatever explanation one might give, the happenings in South Africa are horrid and if Pretoria does not move in quickly to stop it, we think the world is yet to see the worst.
And frankly speaking it is South Africa which will suffer more serious consequences should its tormented neighbours feel enough is enough and retaliate in the same fashion and this is not a joke either.
It is possible that all these South African chain stores and other investments spread in many African countries may end up in flames because violence always begets violence.
To drive this point home, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has vowed to disrupt the operations of MTN and other South African businesses operating in Nigeria because of continued xenophobic attacks aimed at Nigerians living and doing business in South Africa.
NANS says it has already successfully picketed outlets of MTN, MultiChoice, Stanbic IBTC and Shoprite across Nigeria in protest over what the organisation describes as “frequent attacks on Nigerians in South Africa”.
Just across the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Cross Borders Transport Association (ZCBTA) has warned that it will stop all South African cross-border transport if reputed attacks by South African nationals on foreign truck drivers proceed.
“Due to threats by South African nationals that on September 2, 2019 they are embarking on an attack on foreign national drivers, the International Cross-Border Traders Association executive has resolved that if this plan succeeds, we are going to stop all South Africa-registered trucks, buses and flights to cross borders to any African nation,” Dennis Juru, the chair of ZCBTA, said in a statement.
ZCBTA says it is perturbed because it has previously witnessed foreign nationals killed, assaulted and threatened without a single person being arrested or prosecuted by Pretoria.
The Zambian government has banned truck drivers from travelling to South Africa for security reasons which is coming after a Zambian who was recently stabbed in fresh wave of xenophobic attacks in that country.
Zambian Association in South Africa (ZASA) president Ferdinand Simaanya who has confirmed the attack said Mr. Daniel Lupiya was stabbed and badly injured and was rushed to Germiston hospital where doctors attended to him.
Even our own Zambian High Commission in South Africa has also confirmed the deadly attack on Mr. Lupiya, 33 who was attacked on his way home after dropping his niece at one of the schools in the area.
What also cannot be denied from the above is that xenophobic violence in South Africa could be a reflection of economic and political development failures in Africa.
While South Africa has become ‘dishonorable’ for failing to check attacks on foreigners working and living in its country, this conception may be neglecting the bigger picture.
It maybe true that Pretoria must do more to protect distressed people migrating from their native countries, but the nub of the matter appears to be grounded on why South Africa is a choice endpoint for many.
Other schools of thought claim the continent’s rulers may have failed to deliver on their assurance of a nonviolent and affluent Africa, thereby pushing up migration levels as people ingenuously search for greener pastures and security.
We however think there is no problem on Earth that has no solution and perhaps our African Union (AU) should earnestly prevail on the matter instead of just watching from the terraces.
AU should not bury its head in the sand like that foolish Ostrich because this xenophobia issue in South Africa is real and will require real solutions.
It should not wait until more blood is needlessly shed, for the good of the entire Africa.