Xenophobic South Africa Expose AU’s Inactivity

Xenophobia in South Africa

Even children have not been spared in Xenophobic South Africa
Even children have not been spared in Xenophobic South Africa

In the recent days, Africa has witnessed horrific incidents of South Africans attacking fellow black Africans from other countries in what is now commonly known as Xenophobia. Xenophobia is defined as an unreasonable fear or hatred towards foreigners, strangers or of that which is foreign or strange[1]. According to Wikipedia, the word xenophobia comes from two Greek words, (xenos) meaning “strange” or “foreigner” and (phobos) meaning fear.

There are two types of xenophobia: The first type is cultural in nature. In this case those who exhibit this type of xenophobia are so against the objects and elements of a culture, such as clothing or language while the second type of xenophobia is when an entire group of immigrants is not considered part of a particular society. The second type of xenophobia is in most cases as a result of a mass immigration by one or more group of people into a particular country and often results in hostilities and violence that might end up to greater persecution of the group through genocide[2].

The case of South Africa could be as a result of one or a combination of the two forms as there has been widespread violence that has led to loss of lives, property and repatriation of some foreigners from South Africa. What is baffling is why South Africans would exhibit such unreasonable fear against fellow black Africans to an extent of burning foreigners alive but what is clear is that if the trend is not checked, then we might soon see a wholesome fragmentation of the Africa continent mirroring the scramble and partition of Africa and to an extent that African citizens in other African countries might start expelling south Africans and even boycotting South African goods.

Already reactions from some African countries is fast coming with a radio station in Zambia black outing South African music, while Malawi calling for a boycott of South African goods and several demonstrations organized to South African embassies in different countries including Zambia and Zimbabwe[3]. In Kenya there are plans of a demonstration to the South African Embassy to call for arrest and prosecution of all the perpetrators and the police officers who were captured in pictures laughing while an immigrant burned from fire set on him by xenophobic South Africans.

South African Military Expenditure

With South Africa being one of the leading military spenders in the Southern African Development Community[4] (SADC) spending over USD3500milion annually, one would expect that all the people in South Africa would be safe but unfortunately that is not the case. It is worrying that with such spending and military hardware; people can still be attacked and burned alive bringing into question the motivation and the use of such huge spending at the expense of provision of basic and social services to the people as such xenophobic attacks are motivated by a collapsed service delivery system and inequitable distribution of resources.

Loud Silence of the African Union

But while all this is happening, it is the loud silence of the African Union[5] (AU) that is baffling. Many Africans thought that the AU had found new teeth when all African Presidents converged at the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa the headquarter of AU to dismiss the International Criminal Court[6] (ICC) and announced that the AU would transform the African Court on Human and People’s Rights[7] into an African Court on Human Rights and Justice to try cases of crimes against humanity in Africa. So the silence of AU on matters taking place in South Africa confirms that the AU is a toothless bulldog that cannot protect African citizens from any aggression or harm.

If whatever is happening in South Africa is not a crime against humanity then one is left to wonder what the AU describes as a crime against humanity. The same way the AU has been hurrying to call extraordinary sessions to shield her leaders from facing justice at the ICC, they should also move with speed and convene an extraordinary session to discuss the xenophobic attacks in South Africa and also immediately recall, dismiss or sack the chair of the AU Commission[8] Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who also happen to be a South African Citizen. Nkosazana should show course why she should continue to serve in the AU when residents of South Africa attack fellow black Africans with impunity.

[1] Dictionary.Com, Xenophobia. Available from;<http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/xenophobia>. [18 April 2015]

[2] Your Dictionary, Understanding Xenophobia. Available from:<http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-xenophobia.html>. [18 April 2015].

[3] BBC News, South Africa Xenophobia: Africa Reacts. Available from:<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32354993>. [18 April 2015].

[4] The Southern African Development Community. Available from:<http://www.sadc.int/>. [18 April 2015]

[5] The Africa Union. Available from:<http://www.au.int/>. [18 April 2015]

[6] ICC, About the Court. Available from:<http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/about%20the%20court/Pages/about%20the%20court.aspx>. [18 April 2015].

[7] The African Court on Human and People’s Rights. Available from:<http://www.african-court.org/en/>. [18 April 2015].

[8] The African Union Commission. Available from:<http://www.au.int/en/commission>. [18 April 2015]


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