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Xenophobia: Who to blame, leaders or foreigners?

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As the xenophobia attacks in South Africa spreads, many have begun to question the cause of the barbaric acts from a people who were bugged down by apartheid, now turning against those who helped them out.

The attacks were reportedly sparked off by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini who called on foreigners to pack their bags and go back to where ever they came from. This buoyed the confidence of his people, as they poured out on to the streets, looting shops owned by foreigners and also hacking them down.

Government in that country has also failed to put an end to the attacks which have now become a recurrent issue. It has not done much to convince its people that their poverty stricken lives are not caused by the foreigners. And that rather, the foreigners contribute meaningfully to the economy of the country.

On Friday, a crowd of displaced foreign nationals heckled South African President Jacob Zuma during his visit to a makeshift shelter, as he tried to address mounting pressure to end the deadly anti-immigration attacks in the country.

In a meeting the next day with some 1,400 foreigners waiting for repatriation, Zuma said, “We will deploy police in every area to ensure safety.”

The crowd, however, did not take warmly to that promise and chanted, “No!” in response.

Zuma also handed over a cheque of about $4,100 from a local business for the upkeep of the camp. But the gesture was also met with boos from the crowd.

South Africans have zero tolerance for their African brothers and sisters. Their leaders seemed to have brainwashed the citizens that all their economic woes should be blamed on foreigners, especially the ones that run businesses. Or how do you explain the looting of foreign-owned businesses? Any failure of their country is blamed on foreigners.

While the South African economy may not be growing enough to accommodate the number of citizens who had been marginalised as a result of the apartheid regime in past years, they felt foreigners in the country should be blamed for this. It is unfortunate that these types of sentiments are encouraged by leaders in the country.

The ill-informed King Zwelithini and his army of xenophobes should realise that they tag their country as a place where visitors are not usually tolerated. And what a way to advertise the country as a “choice” destination for foreign investors!

Is this a fallout of the failure of the African National Congress-led government? Will this latest “craze” call for re-appraisal of ANC? Can the citizens look inward and maybe consider a change in their political system? Will it be out of place to say ANC has probably outlived its “good”?

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