THE EFFECT OF XENOPHOBIA ON SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Xenophobia is a crime against humanity that involves aspects such as dislike, fear, distrust or intolerance of foreigners, often expressed in terms of hostilities towards the outsiders (Evans and Newnham, 1998: 583). Nel (2005: 241), classifies it as a ‘hate crime’, defined as the extreme expression of prejudice through violent criminal acts committed against people, property, or even organisations, either because of the group to which they belong or with which they identify. This violent anti-foreigner practice is very much a worldwide issue, mostly attributed to the fast globalisation of society, which prompts the migration of people, especially from developing and less developed countries to go in search of greener pastures.
In recent years 2008 and 2009- Xenophobic attacks have increasingly escalated, becoming a significant area of concern predominantly in the ever-swelling entry of foreigners into South Africa. Several elements are responsible for the Xenophobic attacks witnessed in South Africa over these two years, especially the widespread 2008 attacks committed by some South Africans against African immigrants and locals.
According to Nell (2009: 234), reasons for Xenophobic intolerance often focus on three types of factors: (a) Interactive factors related to the amount of exposure inhabitants have to strangers (b) Cultural factors which include identity and nationalism (c) Material or economic factors related to employment opportunities, available resources, etc. The specific nature of such attacks, mostly directed at foreigners, impinges on the security of society and highlights the degree and nature of violence in South Africa as a whole. Considering the fact that South Africa successfully emerged from decades of racial exclusion in the apartheid regime to that of democratic equality and recognition, poses a multiplicity of questions as to why Xenophobia should occur now in South Africa? Is it just another manifestation of racism? Is it because Xenophobia is common in societies undergoing transition? Is it because of the liberal nature of South African foreign policy? Is it merely part of the historical dynamics of present day development? Is it a result of cultural differences and inequality within society? What, in reality, are the causes and consequences and which is the best way forward regarding this problem?
The post-apartheid South Africa which was inaugurated in 1994 presented a new state of racially free and de-segregated society which was a fundamental departure from the highly constricted and polarized society dominated by white minority in the past. This dramatic twist introduced a new dimension to the segregation, discrimination and prejudice that dominated the history of South Africa. This time around however, the victims became foreigners living in South Africa. Regrettably, occurrences suggest institutional connivance as the causal effect of this prejudice (Isike and Isike, 2012).
The new South Africa christened “Rainbow Nation” was believed to herald the birth of “Africa Renaissance” which would usher in cross-cultural boundlessness in Africa and foster regional cohesion. In contrast, the feeling about what “African Renaissance” would bring was lost and replaced with Africa Crucifixion by the virtue of the perpetual racial intolerance and dislike for Nigerians living in South Africa and foreigners. This perpetual racial intolerance and violent attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa has generated local and international condemnation. Advertently, this study thus brings to the fore the core issues of racial intolerance and dislike for foreigners, particularly Nigerians in South Africa, within the broader historical framework of the apartheid regime and the postapartheid socio-economic relations which have over time shaped the existential notions of false community, vague entitlement and vague sense of belonging amongst a number of black South Africans. Indeed, the issue of xenophobia in contemporary South Africa in my view is profound psychosomatic carryovers and the negative product of the apartheid regime that cannot be wished away from the collective consciousness of the people of the rainbow nation. This was as a result of a re-orientation of black South Africans sequel to the post apartheid era. This is even more so, given the attendant dispossession of their heritage and personal pride by the despicable and repugnant apartheid regime, which exploited and segregated them in their own lands. The reality of these historical facts has continued to obstruct the wheel of progress and development especially within the black communities in South Africa; considering the fact that “xenophobia” is a vice that often manifests into a show of aggression against black foreigners by black South Africans. Furthermore, the political crisis of that dark era led to social dislocation, which in turn affected their economic, educational and socio-cultural advancement and developing the required skill sets that would have prepared them for high-level jobs and proper integration into a new South Africa promising a brighter future.
That being said, while xenophobic violence is not a new phenomenon in post-apartheid South Africa, the sudden explosion of violence has been attributed to a combination of factors which include local political pressures over time, increases in prices of basic goods, high levels of unemployment estimated at 25 percent and growing concerns and frustrations at the inability of the South African government under erstwhile President Jacob Zuma to provide essential services to poor people and the resultant economic hardship and tensions surrounding crime and competition over scarce resources by non-national population. The continued socio-economic issues are pushing the average Black South African into extreme poverty in the midst of plenty and there is a high level of dissatisfaction with the scheme of things after the fall of the apartheid regime.
It would be recalled that between May and June 2008, there were 135 separate violent incidents that left people dead, at least 670 wounded and unfortunately, dozens were carnally assaulted and many properties destroyed and looted. At this junction, it would be justifiable to add that the South Africa domestic environment has not been helping matters as it is has not kept privy that it has been hostile to non- nationals particularly, undocumented migrants; and there is implicit culture of impunity – which encourages mob justice in most communities. Interestingly, South African state security institutions such as the police and immigration service show no sympathy to black settlers from other African countries - from the aforementioned, it appears that xenophobia is institutionalized and systemic in South Africa. This attitude generated the questions which include: To what extent can South Africa's inconsistent immigration policy be blamed for xenophobia? Do foreigners really 'steal' South African jobs? Do foreign-owned small businesses have an unfair advantage over those owned by South Africans? What South African government and state security institutions have to comprehend with is that people migrating in search of safer and more prosperous living conditions is as old as man and the right for any person to leave any country is enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
The use of South Africa as a case study is based on the nature of its racial past and the recent xenophobic attacks. According to Minnar (2005: 292), these antiforeigner feelings have been zealously and frequently practised in the last eight years, thus meriting serious attention not only in the context of human rights, but also with reference to the general South African approach to migration policies and the role of government. Furthermore, one of the highest levels of xenophobia in the world, as stated by the South African Migration Project is demonstrated in South Africa and is mostly directed towards black and African immigrants (Laher, 2009: 1). It is therefore on that the focal point of this research is on the causes, effects and consequences of xenophobia in South Africa during the period 2008-2009.
The rise of South Africa above decades of racial segregation and its transition to democracy was hailed and viewed as the dawn of a new era and espoused with high expectations. However, this transition was fraught with ambiguity, especially as the country was embroiled in a range of formidable problems that needed immediate attention. Since becoming a democratic society, South Africa has been exposed to global developments, thus opening its doors and especially its economic sector to the world, and in turn paving the way to the growing influx of foreigners in search of jobs, trading opportunities, shelter (in the case of refugees), leisure and education (visitors/tourists and students) etc. This influx of migrants has been accompanied by Xenophobic sentiments and hatred, not only practised by the public, but also by government officials (Minnar, 2005: 293). Mindful of South Africa’s political, economic and social transformation and change, its endorsed constitutional framework based on the principles of human rights, achievement of equality and social justice, tolerance and non discrimination, what remains apparent is the fact that race-based discrimination still prevails (Nel, 2005: 240 & 243). This and other factors continue to be the challenges South Africa faces today. However, visualising some of the challenges through the lens of Xenophobic attitudes, it (Xenophobia) can be classified as constituting more of a socio-economic and political problem, resulting more specifically from a lack of service delivery by government officials, alongside other reasons.
In view of the above, this article seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of the causes, consequences and effects of Xenophobia in South Africa. The Xenophobic attitudes experienced in 2008 and 2009 contradict the transition principles of South Africa’s post-apartheid history that signify a new world epoch primarily regarding the importance of human rights and international peace. The analysis will be conducted through the use of a literature study, such as books, journals, published articles, reports and internet materials. Further the research will comprise of an introduction; a brief background on Xenophobia; the reasons for Xenophobia in South Africa, which will include socio-economic and political causes; and the effects and ramifications of Xenophobia in South Africa. Based on the above analysis and recommendations, a conclusion would be arrived at.
It is against this background that this article explores the impact of xenophobia or Afrophobia on the operations of the informal economy on which the poor locals and African immigrants depend on for socio-economic survival. In April-May 2015, the streets of Durban were deserted because of xenophobic attacks on non-South African businesses, particularly those owned by Africans from different parts of the continent. Fear was planted in the city of Durban, which led to the decline in economic activities, both formal and informal sectors, with the latter bearing the most brunt. The city was turned into a battle field whereby Afro-hatred was perpetuated with the intention of causing bodily harm and making deportation threats. Nationals from other African countries, mainly Nigerians, Somalis, Malawians, Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Ethiopians, Congolese and so on, were accused of taking jobs meant for locals and suffocating their businesses as well as taking their women. In fear of their lives, non-South Africans were forced to close their businesses and to go into hiding. The renewed incidents of xenophobia in South Africa has dented this country’s image, continentally and internationally. Uncomfortable questions should be asked, thus: Can one attribute xenophobic attacks on the tighter or discriminatory immigration policies or are people caught in quandary for socio-economic survival? The research from which this article is drawn found that xenophobic attacks have implications beyond economic insecurity because they inflict social and psychological scares and trauma among non-South Africans. Similarly to the rest of the country, the Durban CBD experienced social dislocation with negative impact especially in weakening business networks coupled with loss of financial returns on the part of foreigners. Thus, the outbreak of xenophobic attacks between AprilMay 2015 saw foreign nations going into hiding, leaving their businesses unattended. Conclusively, the failure of the political economy to live up to democratic dispensation expectations resulted in irresponsible and indecisive leadership aggravated by the decline of the neo-liberal economic system.
Socio-economic and political implications as discussed in this article are enormous, hence both locals and non-South Africans like Nigerians were affected. Socially, fear planted through the scourge of xenophobia overwhelmed the city of Durban accompanied by the decline in both the formal and informal sector, with the later bearing the most brunt. On the one hand, the city was turned into a battle field whereby Afro-hatred was perpetuated with the intention of causing bodily harm and making deportation threats. On the other hand, the closing of small businesses belonging to foreigners meant that locals were unable to access affordable goods and services. In conclusion, the article argued that both local and foreigners are victims of a weak and irresponsive political economy; yet, for South Africa to eradicate xenophobia and its unintended consequences, a comprehensive strategy is imperative to boost socio-economic development within the SADC region and in Africa at large.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
South Africa’s domestic environment has been hostile to non-nationals, particularly, undocumented migrants and as such, there is an implicit culture of impunity, which encourages mob justice in most communities. Incontrovertibly and indubitably, this unfriendly disposition towards non-nationals has subsequently established South Africa as one of Africa’s most dangerous countries to live in. Hence, Nigerians and foreign business owners are usually attacked during xenophobic attacks. At these hazardous and perilous moments in South Africa, xenophobic attacks have inevitably caused a lot of fears and worries, negative feelings in the minds of people living within and outside the country. In fact, pathetically and emotionally, it has drastically discouraged Nigerians and many other foreign investors to come to South Africa. This has subsequently put strain in the relationship between and Nigeria and South Africa; and the country’s economic development. It has also put the country itself in a state of perplexity, bewilderment and puzzlement. Despite the country having vibrant, brilliant policies and a framework that can handle criminal offences or perpetrators of various attacks – these virtues have not been effectively transformed into reducing xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. One major problem that arises out of this ineffectiveness is a strenuous relationship between Nigeria-South Africa partnerships over years (Socio-Economic Development). Beyond this strenuous relationship is lack of mutual diplomatic and tactful reciprocity on the part of the South Africa government and the country’s non-state actors for the strategic role Nigeria played in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore pertinent to assess the pitfalls or effects of xenophobic attacks on South Africa’s economic state of affairs; and imperative to explore whatsoever diplomatic crisis between Nigeria and South Africa.
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
The main aim of this research work is to examine the effect of xenophobia on the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria Other specific objectives of the study include:
1. To determine the relationship between xenophobia and the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria.
2. To determine the effect of Xenophobia on the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria.
3. To examine the causes of Xenophobia.
4. To proffer a lasting solution to the causes of Xenophobia.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTION
1. What is the relationship between xenophobia and the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria?
2. What is the effect of Xenophobia on the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria?
3. What causes of Xenophobia?
4. What is the possible solution to the causes of Xenophobia?
1.5 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
1. Ho: Xenophobia has no significant effect of on the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria.
2. H1: Xenophobia has significant effect of on the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This research work on the effect of Xenophobia on the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria, will serve as an enlightening tool to the understanding of what Xenophobia is, its causes and effects on the Socio-Economic Development of countries (Nigeria as a case study).
More so, the government of Nigeria will take preventive measures to xenophobic effects especially on her Socio-Economic Development as well as the deprivation of the influx of talent and resources.
1.7 SCOPE OF STUDY
This study will cover the effect of Xenophobia on the Socio-Economic Development of Nigeria.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
1. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
2. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
xenophobia is often attached to the extreme dislike or hatred directed to those who are not citizens of a country; that is, the dislike or hatred of one’s nationality by the other (Ramphele, 2008; Sichone, 2008; Akinola, 2014). From a human rights perspective, this deep dislike of non-nationals by nationals of a recipient state, including its manifestation, is abusive violation that is unconstitutional (South African Human Rights Commission, 1998). Wicker (2001 cited in Sichone, 2008: 257) defines xenophobia as “one among several possible forms of reaction generated by anomic situation in the societies of modern states”. In this context, South Africa is cited as one such good candidate for society in a condition of anomie. Central to the escalation of xenophobia is the individual vulnerability to economic and political deprivation and underdevelopment. This in turn breeds unemployment, low income and declining standards of living (Akinola, 2014: 57). Nyamjoh (2006: 49) argues that xenophobia in South Africa is not generally directed at all people perceived to be foreign nationals but it is Africanised as Afrophobia with black African foreigners being the exclusive target for xenophobic attacks and violence.
Socio-economic development is the process of social and economic development in a society. Socio-economic development is measured with indicators, such as GDP, life expectancy, literacy and levels of employment. Changes in less-tangible factors are also considered, such as personal dignity, freedom of association, personal safety and freedom from fear of physical harm, and the extent of participation in civil society. Causes of socio-economic impacts are, for example, new technologies, changes in laws, changes in the physical environment and ecological changes.
Social-economic development incorporates public concerns in developing social policy and economic initiatives. The ultimate objective of social development is to bring about sustained improvement in the well-being of the individual, groups, family, community, and society at large. It involves sustained increase in the economic standard of living of a country’s population, normally accomplished by increasing its stocks of physical and human capital and thus improving its technology.