Xenophobia - president’s silence deafening

2015-04-30 15:10

IT seems that foreigners entering South Africa are in for hard times. Accusations levelled against foreigners are that they are taking the limited jobs available and are associated with the rampant crime gripping the country.

There is always speculation about Nigerians being key players in the drug trade which is destroying the youth.

However, these are mere allegations that have not been conclusively investigated and verified.

Distinct attributes of the people who enter the country empty-handed to make a living in SA are their entrepreneurial acumen and a determination to make a success of their lives.

The Bangladeshis and Somalians, who have opened businesses in the townships, have done menial jobs, accumulated some capital and started small spaza shops.

They did not take anybody’s job or steal. They used their imagination and creativity to become successful. This is the fundamental ideology underpinning the free-market economy in this country.

What they do have is an unwavering commitment to extricate themselves from their poor circumstances and improve their quality of life. This must be a lesson for every person to emulate. This level of entrepreneurial thinking and quest for self-sufficiency can be placed squarely at the education systems in these foreign countries where emphasis is placed on the creation of small businesses with the effect of growing the economy.

The recent attacks on foreigners, which led to the deaths of four people, with many being injured or displaced, is in danger of spiralling out of control. Looting foreign-owned shops and murdering foreigners is not the answer when dealing with this issue.

The challenge is much more complex and multifaceted. Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, together with a high-powered government delegation, must deal with the issues of xenophobia immediately. Jacob Zuma’s silence is obviously deafening.

These attacks have to be averted at all costs. If left unchecked, they could reach similar proportions as the Rwandan genocide that occurred in 1994.

VIJAY SURUJPAL

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