Jean-Jacques Cornish

South Africa fears a new wave of xenophobia

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There are fears that a new wave of xenophobia is building in South Africa.

Driving it as movement called Dudula, which is the Zulu word for drive-back.

Current hot spots are Alexandra township, were people in poverty live in sight of the salubrious business and residential area of Sandton, and in Soweto.

The two areas lie respectively north and  west of Johannesburg which houses nearly a quarter of South Africa’s 60 million people.

In Alexandra, foreign businesses are being targeted for allegedly depriving the income of the increasing number of South Africans driven back into poverty by the COVID resstrictions.

Dudula is also calling for foreigners to be evicted from government subsidized housing that should be reserved for needy locals.

In Soweto, Dudula is taking aim at foreigners allegedly involved in organised crime plaguing South African residents.

Xenophobia is particularly embarrassing to the African National Congress-led government because of support its exiles and liberation fighters received abroad during the struggle against apartheid.

It refused to acknowledge that the 2008 attacks that left 67 foreigners dead was xenopophoba, insisting that it was opportunistic criminality.

In 2019 it launched the National Action Plan Combatting Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia And Related Intolerance.

At last weekend’s imbizo  (Cabinet retreat) Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said government would not allow South Africans to treat foreigners like animals because they too have rights.

He rounded on the hard left Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema for conducting a surprise “inspection”of  Johannesburg restaurants earlier this year to count the number of foreign employees in its service.

“It cannot be allowed because they are disrupting production in those particular workplaces,”Nxesi said.

“We also do not agree with the Dudula approach because it creates confusion and can lead to violence.

“We cannot allow violence  and that is why we will be harsh. The police will be there to deal with that.”

A Human Rights Watch report says law enforcement authorities have reacted with indifference and and have offered inadequate remedies to cases of xenophobia.

South African law restricts access of asylum seekers to the proper authorities and there is a huge backlog in processing claims and appeals.

Government and law enforcement officials join in the harassment and attacks on foreigners.

The human rights watchdog received reports of police selling back to foreign business good seized in so-called counterfeit raids.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa shortly after he assumed the rotating chairmanship of the African Union expressing concern about the vulnerability of refugees and asylum seekers under South Africa’s COVID regulations and asked him to ensure they had access to basic services.

COVID relief in South Africa overlooks asylum seekers and refugees.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.