Competition for scarce resources at the root of xenophobia …


A foreign national reacts in the CBD of Joburg, after the looting of a store owned by foreigners. The foreign community has gathered weapons to protect themselves. More than thirty people are believed to have been arrested since violent protests erupted in Johannesburg’s CBD on Sunday. Protests and looting continued throughout Monday. Shops in and around various parts of Johannesburg have been looted and set on fire. Most of these establishments were owned by foreigners, although local stores were also affected. PHOTO: ALON SKUY

Reports on the xenophobic attacks of 2010 and 2015 made a number of recommendations, but few appear to have been implemented, parliamentarians heard.

On Wednesday September 11, 2019, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development heard the findings and recommendations of the reports on xenophobic violence in South Africa.

The reports were written in 2010 and 2015 to probe the reasons for xenophobic violence in 2008 and 2015, but could still very well apply to the reasons why there are still xenophobic attacks in 2019, the commission said.

South Africans are affected by high levels of unemployment and poverty which push them to set up survival businesses that receive minimal or no support from the government and are therefore particularly susceptible to increased competition, ”said Nwabisa Mbelekane, researcher parliamentarian, who presented the report to parliament. Committee.

The 2008 report found that xenophobic violence was occurring in informal settlements, areas with high levels of poverty and where competition for scarce resources made matters worse.

That year, 62 people were kill, including South Africans. In 2015, seven people were killed in xenophobic violence, including three South Africans.

The general conclusion of the two reports was that “foreign nationals are leaving their countries of origin due to high levels of poverty, unemployment and political instability,” Mbelekane said.

Foreign nationals often found themselves exploited by employers and worked long hours for low wages. Undocumented foreigners were even more vulnerable and could not organize.

The recommendations were that the inter-ministerial committee should “monitor [and] anticipate »violence and protect foreign nationals. One of the conclusions was that the police were doing nothing to stop the violence. The report recommended that ministries work together to protect the rights of foreign nationals.

Committee members agreed to have a joint meeting with other relevant committees.

We need to get our own house in order before we have a joint meeting. If we say to [the Portfolio Committee on] Home affairs’ what happens with the issuance of documents [to foreign nationals]? ‘ they will ask us questions about our processes. This is the responsibility of peers, ”said ANC MP Faiez Jacobs.

The report recommended that the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee ensure that the ministry prioritizes issuing the correct documents to foreign nationals. The Ministry of Justice must ensure that it deals with cases of violence against foreign nationals.

Mbelekane told the committee he had to do quarterly or semi-annual follow-ups “to avoid recurrence [of xenophobic violence], it was said in 2010, in 2015 and it is being said now ”.

It’s pretty clear that very little has been implemented or else we wouldn’t have had a push in the last couple of weeks, ”said Ganief Hendricks of Al Jama-ah.

Member of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) Vuyolwethu Zungula said there were no specific recommendations in the report on how to protect and help small businesses amid all the violence.

There are no recommendations for the issue of small business development. My view is that South Africans compete for scarce resources. Unfortunately, many people use violence as a way to resolve violence. We need solid solutions that ensure that this is the last time we have xenophobic violence in this country, ”Zungula said. DM

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