In Africa the King, Traditional tribal rulers or whatever, is the overall owner of all the richness of the country of which they have control. When the ANC government took over from the previous regime, they also took control of income tax and income generated by the railways, airways and harbours (then functional and providing a proper service) as well as Eskom and the other state owned companies. Unfortunately these commodities have to be managed in order to be run economically.
The ANC’s promises of proper housing, health services, electricity, free water for all and sanitary services, however resulted in poor delivery of municipal services and corruption within these structures. It was only a small group of supporters that benefited and joined the super rich class of citizens in South Africa. The rest of the black population are still waiting for the promised goods.
Meantime they find themselves amongst the 25% of the population that is jobless due to poor training, starting at school level where the Department of Education in all provinces completely disintegrated under ANC rule.
With all the labour laws to which the SME’s (Small and Medium Enterprises) are subjected to, it is quite clear why employers might rather go for foreigners who are willing to work for a lower salary than those demanded by union members. They are not the only ones. You will find them in the gardens working as gardeners or in homes, working as domestic workers. The reason is quite simple, these foreigners are willing to do the work the local people are not prepared to do, as the ANC promised them something better.
The SME’s provide the most work opportunities and is the one section that can create new job opportunities. The however get no recognition for this role, and without any tax relieve, they have to train their own work force as all the training facilities were closed down by the ANC government. Due to the lack of trained personnel, foreign workers from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Nigeria, took advantage of the situation by providing some services and skills to the local SME’s and local people. Foreign entrepreneurs brought the supermarkets closer to the poor people’s homes in the compounds and shack towns, doing hand labour, although qualified as chefs, teachers and tradesmen.
The current phase of Xenophobia is a direct result of this situation. The true poor South African citizens are still waiting for the free handouts and jobs the ANC government promised when they took over control from the previous regime. They would rather be poor and jobless while they wait for the promised handout from the ANC.
This is why the local people’s anger is aimed at foreign entrepreneurs who create an income for themselves in South Africa. These foreigners are prepared to do the work locals are not interested or qualified to. Here in South Africa they get the chance of raising above the poverty they have to live with in their countries of origin.
Going just a few weeks back, it was Zuma that pointed his finger at the white population by declaring that all the trouble in South Africa started with the landing of Jan van Riebeeck, hereby identifying all white people as foreigners. Is this not part of xenophobia, or intolerance of foreign people?
At the time of Van Riebeeck’s landing, the Koi San people were the only inhabitants of Southern Africa. All people following them were foreigners. This include the Xhoza, Zulu and other African tribes settling in their area, as well as all the Europeans and Eastern nations like the Chinese and Indians who, for centuries, have found a home in South Africa. Nando’s would not even have existed as there were no “chickens” in South Africa. Small stock like chicken and sheep were not natural to South Africa but came with the new settlers who made this part of the world their home.
Comment by Pieter Coetzee – Editor: Kwêvoël