The World Cup, South Africa and xenophobia (yes, xenophobia again!)

Apparently the World Cup is scheduled to be held in South Africa in 2010 and everyone is freaking out about what impact the “xenophobic” unrest (violence!) of recent months will have on the games and the hoped-for economic boom tourists might bring.   This is an overly long article from a publication of the Namibian government in which, yes, once again, xenophobia is blamed for the violence.    Those South Africans hate foreigners for no reason at all (except that they are foreigners), or so the theory goes.   See my earlier post on xenophobia here.

Sandwiched in the middle of this, as I said, overlong dissection, is what I see as the crux of the matter.  There are too many people in Africa and too few resources.  As the population increases and hordes of people cross borders to find the basic necessities, jobs, food, shelter,  the indiginous population will react violently to preserve their own lives and livelihoods.   In South Africa it is the poor black population perpetuating the violence against other African black ‘outsiders’. 

This is not rocket science, nor does it call for a psychiatrist to root out xenophobia.

In 1997, it was found that 25% of South Africans wanted a total prohibition of migration or immigration and 22% wanted the South African government to return all foreigners presently living in South Africa to their own countries.

Forty-five percent of the sample called for strict limits to be placed on migrants and immigrants and 17% wanted migration policies tied to the availability of jobs. In the same survey, some 61% of respondents agreed that migrants put additional strains on the country’s resources.

The government of the “rainbow nation” did nothing.  So does the next survey surprise anyone?

In 2006, respondents continued to consider foreigners to be a threat to the social and economic wellbeing of South Africa. More than two-thirds said that foreigners use up resources such as water, electricity and healthcare destined for citizens. Two-thirds of respondents felt that foreigners from other African countries commit crimes and close to one half said that foreigners bring diseases such as HIV to South Africa.

Thus, like in the1997 survey, respondents in 2006 appear to continue to have a negative view of the impact of foreigners on the country, and in fact it would appear that their view on certain issues has hardened, with greater percentages saying foreigners take up resources meant for citizens.

It makes perfect sense that the citizens of South Africa are responding to a real problem of too many people and not enough resources.  When the government didn’t listen 10 years ago, is it any surprise that their view has hardened!     Take heed John ‘open-our-borders’ McCain.

Go back and read about Steve Camarota’s Washington Post opinion piece and our increasing population and dwindling resources here.

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