A wave of anti-foreigner or xenophobic sentiment across some South African communities culminated in the mob killing of a Zimbabwean man, Elvis Nyathi in Diepsloot last week.
The xenophobic sentiments, fuelled by anger over violent crimes such as rape, robberies, and murder, are being directed at Zimbabweans settled in South Africa.
According to reports, poverty, unemployment, and crime are apparently the greatest sources of contention as anti foreigner group Operation Dudula and its members believe that illegal foreigners – and sometimes “foreigners” in general are the reason that South Africa’s public socioeconomic systems do not benefit its native black majority.
An estimated 10 million people in South Africa live below the food poverty line while the unemployment rate is at a record high of almost 40 percent amongst black South Africans according to Statistics South Africa.
Great Dyke News 24 established that the total population of South Africa at 58 million outnumbers that of Zimbabwe at 15 million by about four times and if we are to take the unverified figues of 3 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, that would mean there is just one Zimbabwean to 20 South Africans. Assuming that all Zimbabweans leave this country and go to South Africa, we will all still be outnumbered by South Africans by four to one.
What this shows is that South Africans have a serious numerical advantage over Zimbabweans in the neighbouring country, so it is puzzling how it works out that twenty South African jobs are being taken by one Zimbabwean. So is Operation Dudula driving its own ulterior agenda?
Great Dyke News 24 spoke to the Buy Zimbabwean Chairman Munyaradzi Hwengwere who says South Africa must focus on the reality and create jobs for its citizens than using Zimbabweans as scapegoats.
“As Buy Zimbabwe we love South Africa as our neighbour but we just want to understand those who are driving this attack on Zimbabweans to explain the maths.
“They can be focusing on Zimbabweans but perhaps they should focus on the ninteen South Africans who are sitting at home because that’s where the problem is.
“We need to ask why South Africans are not working, in this case, if we are to be honest, it’s not about the Zimbabweans but it’s about the nineteen South Africans who are either lazy because as Africans we should always be focusing on mutually beneficial trade because these nineteen are looking for jobs.
“If all Zimbabweans in South Africa leave the country, there will still be a high rate of unemployment, so they still have a problem.
“My message is that Nhlanhla ‘Lux’ Dlamini (the leader of the Operation Dudula movement) has a problem with the 19 South Africans, he must convene an employment conference for the ninteen that he claims are not working because we have done the maths and it’s not the Zimbabweans who are taking the jobs but there is a problem in South Africa,” he said.
According to Zama Ndlovu, a South African communicator, columnist and author, when South African politicians blame foreigners for crime and joblessness, it’s important to talk about their economy and remind people that economic and political choices have brought them to that point, not African foreigners.
“South Africa does have problems. First, the country has had a growth problem for most of the post-1994 period and even though growth increased from 2.9% in 2002 to as high as almost 6% in 2006, that period did not create the type of jobs that could accommodate the type of skills that were in high supply in the labour market. Since the Great Financial Recession of 2007 to 2009, growth has continued to decline.
“Before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was at 29.1%, the absorption rate at 42.4%, and the labour force participation rate at 59.8%.
“Statistics South Africa published a report in 2019 stating that South Africa’s economic performance has worsened dramatically during the period 2010 to 2019, going from a decade high of 3.04% in 2010 to barely expanding at 0.113% in 2019.
“The average annual growth rate of about 1.7% over a 10-year period was inadequate to provide the requisite employment growth.
“The inflation rate remained high throughout this period, surpassing the 3-6% inflation target set by the South African Reserve Bank in 2016 to hit 6.5% before easing down to less than 4% in 2017,” said Ndlovu.