If there is room enough for everyone, then there would be no need to scramble. The same goes for wealth. If wealth is evenly distributed, then there would be no need to envy and attempt to outdo one another; the bane of xenophobia.
Xenophobic attacks are spun from inequality and bad leadership, both of which are significant in South Africa. According to Oxfam South Africa’s democracy and governance manager, Mthandazo Ndlovu, “inequality in South Africa has been exacerbated as a result of systemic failures at a government level.” That is to say, there is a nexus between inequality, bad governance and xenophobia and if the hedge binding them are not broken, the serpent of discord will keep striking, leading in many more deaths in South Africa.
Foreigners have always faced discrimination in South Africa, and contrary to what many thought, post-apartheid did not eliminate xenophobic attacks in the country; if anything, it made it worse. Between 2008 and 2019 about 200 people have lost their lives, no thanks to xenophobia. Mandela’s rainbow nation was supposed to show the world how a new, equitable society could be built out of the ashes of repression and racism. But by some measures, inequality in the country today is worse than it was under apartheid.
Though the South African law integrates the once divided white, black and Indian populace, silent segregation and hostility still persist in different parts of the country mainly due to the widening gap between the rich and poor in South Africa.
The country remains the most economically unequal country in the world and in the last eight years, over three million South Africans have been living below the poverty line, a study by Statistics South Africa shows. Currently, over 30.4 million South Africans, about 55.5 percent live on less than 992 rand (about $75) monthly.
Why Xenophobia will not end any time soon
South Africa feels superior to other African countries; First off the country is the only African country in Africa with Africa in its name, and thanks to its mineral and precious metal reserves, the country has attracted a lot of mineral giants. In addition, the proximity of South Africa to the ocean, the wildlife and the savanna make it an attractive tourist destination, creating has wealth for the country.
Although activities and the size of the country create wealth, it is not evenly distributed among whites, blacks, Indians and other nationals based in the Southern African country. This has caused intense competition for jobs, commodities and housing as well as increased poverty.
Misplaced aggression: Although the majority of South Africans are poor and have a shared experience of hardship, the country is colonial and apartheid past gave birth to a racist nature among those who should jointly fight for their right.
These racial sentiments have given birth to xenophobic attacks and ethnic prejudice in the country. Worse, the country has no favourable immigration laws. In March 2017, the country approved the White Paper on International Migration, separating foreigners into skilled and unskilled categories and only the skilled are welcomed. However, this does not alleviate the hate the locals have for foreigners who they believe are taking their jobs.