The upsurge of xenophobic conflict that threatens to engulf the entire country must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Not only is the violence claiming lives, damaging property and causing physical injuries, it is also encouraging children to steal, loot and attack innocent people as a way of life. The Moral Regeneration Movement [MRM] believes that the issue of xenophobia is more complex than meets the eye. For some people violent attacks against foreign nationals is perpetrated by people who are uneducated, young, criminal inclined, lazy and afro-phobic. If hatred or fear of foreigners especially from Africa is the main reason for the attacks, how come hundreds of professionals, business leaders, academics, health workers, and researchers from Africa have never been attacked in suburbs? The pigmentation of our fellow Africans cannot be the main reason for victimising them. Social researchers have discovered the deep-seated reasons for the xenophobia are poverty, unemployment, and social deprivation, the scramble for scarce resources and to a lesser extent criminality, amongst others. It is also true that foreigners tend to display a higher work ethic purely to survive not because they biologically so inclined on foreign soil. Is the government or our home affairs in our country and foreign national doing enough to combat the issue we facing and are we as citizens doing enough to assist home affairs in eradicating the issue? And how?
MRM suggests a two-pronged strategy:
The immediate challenge is to restore and maintain the security of residents in the affected areas and to proactively extinguish the fires before they explode. Government departments led by Home Affairs must make our porous borders more watertight; as far as it’s humanely possible. An important element is also to tighten up the procedure of immigration and to exercise zero-tolerance against corrupt officials so that thousands of illegal immigrants don’t find it easy to get a South African citizenship or travel documents. MRM suggests that experienced interdisciplinary mediation organisations, interfaith leadership and generally neutral people must drive long-term solution. Through its Charter of Positive Values, the MRM can make a valuable and permanent contribution. Linked to this is the need for a national campaign to promote values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, respect for human dignity, fairness and love for Africa and its entire people. mThe reaction of the international community through the xenophobic attack is extremely worrying. It means that SA must redouble its effort to normalise the situation in order to regain the confidence of the international community in our country. The Moral Regeneration Movement believes that the problem is everybody’s business. With our much-cherished philosophy of Ubuntu, together we can overcome this scourge. ONE CAN ONLY SIGH, “CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY”
Written by: Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa (chairperson of the MRM)