Amanda Watson news editor The Citizen obituary

By Amanda Watson

News Editor

Now that ANC faces an uncertain future, foreigners are ‘suddenly’ a problem

The increase in violence towards foreigners – illegal or otherwise – is suspicious given academia has been warning of an influx of people into South Africa since at least 1996.

There is an ongoing low-grade war in South Africa which, as the 2024 general election approaches, is set to intensify as some fed up South Africans continue their increasing attacks on foreign nationals.

With some polls predicting a vote below 50% for the ANC (others predicting a close win, at best, for the party), it’s a handy distraction for the ANC from its complete and utter bungling of governing the country.

Too many people have sat for too long at home barely surviving and it has only taken a few people to wilfully direct a large portion of their anger away from the failings of government on to people.

Let’s be clear: people who are here illegally need to be sent back to their country – by government. Of course, this is one of many balls being fumbled by government and the inevitable vacuum is filled by those who no longer have government’s ear, or access to the services it is meant to provide.

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The increase in violence towards foreigners – illegal or otherwise – is suspicious given academia has been warning of an influx of people into South Africa since at least 1996, when a paper by Brij Maharaj and Rinku Rajkumar from the University of Durban-Westville pointed out the problem. Let that sink in for a moment – since 1996.

Titled, The ‘alien invasion’ in South Africa: Illegal immigrants in Durban, one of the study’s key takeaways was the majority of illegal immigrants come to South Africa in search of better economic opportunities.

“They are accused of taking away the jobs of locals, lowering wages and spreading diseases,” their paper found.

Since 1996, there have been many similar studies warning of the ever-increasing influx. Yet now, because the ANC faces an uncertain political future, foreigners are “suddenly” a problem.

For two weeks, Operation Dudula members have been camping outside Kalafong Hospital near Pretoria demanding identification from people needing medical care, including staff, who allegedly had to prove they were SA citizens. It is unconscionable.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said yesterday “we” – meaning government presumably – are “alive to the reality that failures at local government level are widening the trust deficit between government and the citizenry”.

“Unless these are remedied, we run the risk that the South African people become disillusioned with democracy itself,” he said at the SA Human Rights Commission National Conference on Local Governance.

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I’m shocked that only now Ramaphosa is beginning to think there’s a “risk the SA people become disillusioned with democracy itself”.

During the previous municipal elections, according to the Electoral Commission of SA, of more than 26 million registered voters out of more than 42 million eligible voters, only 12.2 million people voted. So, about 30 million voters didn’t turn up, because what’s the point?

Mr President, the problem showed up a long time ago. Like everything else the ANC has touched, democracy is dying and people, foreigners, locals, illegal and legal, are paying the price.