not guarantee protection of individual rights. This is all the more apparent where poverty and unemployment is rampant.Whilst xenophobia has been described as something of a global phenomenon, closely associated with the process of globalization, it has been noted that it is particularly prevalent in countries undergoing transition. According to Neocosmos (2006), this is because xenophobia is a problem of post-coloniality, one which is associated with the politics of the dominant groups in the period following independence. This is to do with a feeling of superiority, but is also, perhaps, part of a scapegoating’ process described by Harris (2001), where unfulfilled expectations of a new democracy result in the foreigner coming to embody unemployment, poverty and deprivation.
South Africa has gradually emerged as a regional power, with a leading economy as one of the most industrialized countries on the African continent. This has made it the most sought after destination for many migrants from all over the world and from African countries in particular, who because of economic, social and political disparities in their countries of origin, seek a better alternative in South Africa.
Internal causes of xenophobia in South AfricaSocial factorsHigh unemployment An increased unemployment rate in South Africa is one of the factors that has caused anti foreigner attacks in South Africa. According to (1-Net 2009) because of the free economic system of South Africa has emerged the economic powerhouse of Africa. South Africa naturally has become the land of opportunities as well as a haven of peace for those fleeing from war torn countries, political conflict and or ethnic based violence. This has greatly increased unemployment, poverty and homelessness, especially in poor black communities due to aggressive competition for jobs and housing (Harvey 2008).South Africans are dissatisfied and frustrated with lack of service delivery and they direct their anger at foreigners.Socio-economic factorsApartheidOne of the permanent effects of Apartheid is the co-existence of immense wealth with abject poverty. Taking into account the overcrowding and poverty in Alexandra in comparison to the modernite Sandton. These poverty stricken settlements are incubators of poverty, social alienation, cut throat competition for inadequate resources in which black youths are the dominant group in the poorest of the poor suggests (Zondi 2008).This setup fuels crime and the preponderance of violent conflict (Nell 2005).There is a great truth in the assertion that poor societies face a greater risk of civil unrest and poverty (Obademi and Undiale 2004).Foreign Policy post apartheid eraSouth Africa’s transition to a democracy was founded upon negotiations in which certain promises and assurances were made but not delivered, thereby living some national questions unanswered. (Hendricks and Whiteman 2004) argue that the part failure to resolve national problems to a greater extent may be attributed to South Africa’s national interest being on a certain level based on Africa’s prosperity and stability, an indication of its liberal foreign policy. The liberal nature of South Africa’s foreign policy can be attributed as being one of the causes of xenophobia since in an effort to gain readmittance to the continent’s organisations and the international community, domestic interests took a backseat (Nyamnjoh 2006) posits that the adoption of the principle of equality without justice creates environmental tension especially as the average underprivileged South African realize that their constitutional rights were being undermined as a result of failure to deliver the material benefits of citizenship coupled with the need for continual competition with foreigners.Inequality and discriminationIn spite of the fact that South Africa is Africa’s economic hub being the most industrialized, it still faces the problem of very high rates of inequality and discrimination in the allocation of wealth in both social and economic spheres .The gap between the rich and the poor is apparent according to (Barns 2008) and this has led to a feeling of resentment and frustration especially with the blacks. The discrimination is so deep cited with regards to Africans to the extent that they have even given foreigners a name labeling them Makwerekwere which implies a black person who cannot demonstrate mastery of the local South African languages and one who hails from a country assumed to be economically and culturally backward in relation to South Africa (Nyamnjoh 2006).It is the author’s view that this can be likened to the period of slavery in Europe where Blacks were referred to as Negros. Name calling and labeling only saves to deeply entrench the discriminatory attitude which is a seed well sown making xenophobic attacks inevitable.Political factorsAs outlined by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) in 2008 the hostilities in South Africa are the expression of citizens’ frustration over the slow pace of service delivery, consultation, housing provision and administration in particular as well as the corruption and insolence of government officials especially in the Police Service and in the department of Home Affairs.The South African Government departments tend to spend little of the fiscal year’s budgets allocated to them for the purposes of serving the people and bringing about development to the various communities (Webb 2008). In terms of the budget allocation, accusations were levied against the Government’s national departments for not spending their capital expenditure. According to the Report, by the third quarter of the 2007/2008 financial year, eighteen departments had spent less than fifty per cent and four less than twenty per cent of their allocated resources. With such incapability to effectively manage the finance allocation by government departments, the Government was also blamed for failing to take serious consideration of matters pertaining to job creation and economic development (Webb 2008).Other political causes of Xenophobia include structural or institutional discrimination, the laxity of the Department of Home Affairs to grant asylum seekers refugee status, the illegal presentation of immigrants, and South Africa’s border problems. According to Matzopoulos et al. (2009), questions are being raised about the attitude of the South African Government towards foreign nationals, especially the manner in which these foreigners are dealt with by the Department of Home Affairs concerning the matter of their legal status. This involves the very slow processing of foreigners’ applications to be granted a legal status in which, at the end, the majority is refused refugee status. Such delays by the Department of Home Affairs have led to the unjustified arrest and detention of refugees in the immigration section of prisons, with some waiting to be deported (McKnight 2008).Moreover, the majority of the South African population is not informed about the status of various migrants and the general misconception is that all immigrants come to South Africa with the aim of benefiting from the democratic nature and the comparative economic and political stability of the country (McKnight 2008).The laxity exercised by government institutions in dealing with issues to do with foreigners causes nationals to take matters into their own hands and this fuels xenophobia.Why are foreigners always the first target of the working class in times of economic turbulence?’ (Biepke 2008). Further Biepke adds, based on the mood of the working class, refugees are generally used as a political pendulum by the Government. This is because they are hard-working and the Government is usually patient with foreigners when the economy of the country is flourishing. However, when the economy is in downturn, refugees become the easiest target for blame (Nell 2009). The political reasons for xenophobia thus correlate with the factors: the failure of the state to achieve human development together with poor services and the deteriorating infrastructure and ongoing poverty in all give meaning to xenophobic attacks and the accompanying violence. The base line of all these xenophobic practices in South Africa by locals and other communities has resulted in serious implications for the country as a whole. These implications follow in the line of socio-economic effects and consequences.It appears that an increasing number of politicians now feel justified in throwing immigration as red meat to their base for their own, narrow and very personal advantage. There is now some evidence that they are playing with fire and that, should they continue, it might be impossible to control the unleashed monster.