South Africans might experience once again, the pangs of the dreaded Apartheid rule if the South African government and the African Union (AU) fail to address the issue of Xenophobic attacks on foreigners, professionals have warned.
They stated that jobs are being taken away from black South Africans by white South Africans who own multinational corporations but employ cheap labour and non-unionised labour brought by other Africans.
One of the professionals and Pioneer Chairman of the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Albert, argued that black South Africans are made to think it’s the black Africans who are taking away these jobs because white South Africans have demonised black Africans, hence, the attacks.
While speaking at the First Annual Roundtable discussion in honour of Nigeria’s former ambassador to the Belgium and European Union, Prof. Alaba Ogunsanwo at the Lead City University, Ibadan, Prof. Albert warned that “in the next five years, there might be Apartheid again in South Africa because the white South Africans are reoccupying the spaces left by black Africans.”
The event was organised by the African Journal of International Affairs and Development (AJIAD) in conjunction with the Department of Politics and International Relations, Lead City University, Ibadan.
Albert who spoke on “Xenophobia or Afrophobia: Causes, Consequences and Corrections,” warned that a bigger problem looms if the South African government fails to take over their economy from the whites.
Albert said: “What we are told is that South Africans do not like outsiders and that is why they are attacking some Nigerians, Zambians, Ethiopians and their properties. That is a simplistic and monocausal explanation of what is happening in South Africa.
“My first visit to South Africa was after the 1995 election, I could see that mentality to say that the Vice-Chancellor of this university is white and after the transition, they want a black man to occupy that position.
“The black men don’t have the qualification and the training but believes that once they’re blacks, they should automatically replace the whites. And that mentality is what I see every year in South Africa. The blacks are still waiting for when the whites will vacate the system and the blacks will take their place.
“MTN, DSTV and Stanbic IBTC belong to the white South Africans and not the blacks. What the government only gets is tax made from the profits made by these companies, but black political leaders do not pass this along to the blacks. They get the resources but it does not trickle down to the people.
“At the University of Witwatersrand, on an annual basis, the blacks are taken out and replaced by white South Africans because the blacks are not progressing quickly, getting PhD quickly, the whites are gradually replacing Nigerian, Zambian professors there. In the next five years, you will have what will look like Apartheid again.
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“They call it South Africanisation. To them, they are increasing the participation of South Africans in the system but the black South Africans are not occupying the space. They are waiting for when the whites will leave the space and they will occupy it. If the South Africans are smart, they should put in place structures that will make them take over the economy of South Africa in the next ten or twenty years.
“Many of the Nigerians who own malls today started from the streets selling groundnuts and whatever but the problem of the South African man is that he does not want to work hard from the streets but that won’t happen. The black Africans in South African now have worked to a stage where they can buy shares in the big enterprises in South Africa but the black South Africans are still waiting for these opportunities to be given to them.
“I engaged some street boys while Mandela was still alive, and they told us then they were not getting anything from the transition. They said at that time that they were going to react. I concluded at the end of my academic analysis that they were going to attack the whites. But now, they are attacking the foreign blacks in South Africa.
“This is because outsiders have been demonised as the people creating problems for the blacks. The problem now is Xenophobia is open, while Afrophobia is hidden. What we are witnessing will negatively affect South Africa. The stock market is already going down. Investors are now afraid.
“These people have come to invest in your country but you are setting their enterprises on fire. You are discouraging investments in your country. Shares in South Africa now has fallen and that is the beginning of the economic crisis in that country.
“AU Agenda 2063 is trying to promote integrated development and borderless Africa. Nigeria and South Africa are the two leading giants of Africa but South Africa is gradually knocking itself from that.
“It is difficult to reverse the damages that have been done and African governments are not addressing the problems. Why is AU silent? This is a problem that is affecting the whole continent and we are still waiting for Africa Union.”
Vice-Chairman, Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy, Prof Tunji Olaopa, on his part, berated the South African government for not forcing border controls because they wanted low-income workforce and non-unionised labour.
He further said the failure of the government to create jobs and policies to help the reorientation of South Africans will lead to high unemployment and lack of entrepreneurial skills of South Africans.
While also blaming the attacks on lack of South African legislation against xenophobia leading to impunity by the perpetrators, he urged the government and its people to always uphold the human rights of foreigners.
Olaopa stated that there is a need for better intelligence gathering to help map out hot spots of possible attacks and the use of technology-based initiatives to stem these attacks on foreigners.
Prof Akeem Amodu, a former commissioner in Oyo State, restated the need for a framework where there is mutual intercultural understanding where the African man sees and loves fellow Africans.
“AU should engender peace, love and unity among Africans. Xenophobia is a result of the failure of African leadership. The leaders should not only think of present generations but also future generations within the framework of sustainable Africa.”
Dr Olubunmi Akande of the Durban University of Technology, South Africa noted that there is high pressure on the economy and also scarce resources in South Africa as a result of high immigration into South Africa.
She said: “The local population feels deprived of the promises that came with liberation in 1994. There is anger. And they carry these out on people. But why black people? It is because they are close to them.”
She, however, said economic revitalisation and infrastructure development in other African countries and increased commitment of the South Africa government to address economic challenges will help find a solution to the attacks on foreigners.
Earlier at the event, Prof Ayo Olukotun, who is the Chair in Governance at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) charged the Nigerian government to make Nigeria liveable so that Nigerians won’t seek greener pastures where they eventually will fall victims of attacks.
“As we condemn Xenophobia, there are many Nigerian who have driven into crimes in their new countries of abode. A lot of Nigerians in South Africa are without something meaningful to do.
“Why are so many people leaving Nigeria? It is because the Nigerian state has failed. We are being driven away from home by afflictions.
“If there was governance and Nigeria is a nicer place, we won’t have many immigrants moving to relocate to other African countries and beyond. We need to recreate and recalibrate our own country.”
Also speaking earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of Lead City University, Prof. Kabir Adeyemo who described Ogunsawo as the most hardworking staff member of the institution, said he is being celebrated for his educational dexterity, hard work and friendliness to the staff and friends of the university.