Sun, May

File image: Looting and violence erupt in shops owned by foreign nationals in Soweto, Johannesburg. Credit - theconversation

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  • Well, there is nothing wrong with the youth in African nations fighting to take their rightful places in their own nations. What needs to be done is for ...

Written By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai - The upsurge of xenophobia in South Africa leading to attacks on foreign nationals especially fellow Africans is a matter of concern.

The main reason for the atrocities is not difficult to find. South Africa which was liberated from Apartheid or white minority rule through the help of the rest of Africa has a lot of problems. Chief among them is the huge number of unemployed youths. Being a nation open to all Africans, a considerable number of men and women from other parts of the continent have moved to the country to seek employment and to engage in businesses. While some of the foreign nationals are engaged in legitimate activities there are others who have veered into criminal activities.

These include drug use and peddling and Internet fraud. Studies have shown that the economic woes of South Africa go beyond the influx of youths from other nations to the fact that remnants of the European minorities still control businesses and therefore most parts of the economy.

The youth in South Africa feel that the only way to rectify the situation is to drive away the foreign nationals especially those engaged in businesses. Perhaps they are not aware that the economic problems cannot be blamed solely on the foreigners. Brutal attack on foreigners by South Africans is wrong as it can result in physical conflicts leading to war. This is not the first time an African nation is attempting to drive away foreign nationals.

Apart from the Aliens Compliance Order Law through which foreign nationals without residence permits were driven away from Ghana in the late 60s, a Ghanaian business group GUTA is fighting to drive away some African nationals who are trading in legally reserved section of trading for Ghanaians. They may be right but they must use the right method.

The Aliens Compliance Order which was based on a law resulted in a reprisal with Nigeria driving away Ghanaian youths later. Well, there is nothing wrong with the youth in African nations fighting to take their rightful places in their own nations. What needs to be done is for leaders to take steps to address the situation in order to prevent confrontations and war.

Our forebears after fighting for the liberation of African countries set up a continental body the African Union. Apart from that, regional bodies like ECOWAS were established to promote free movement of people and goods. However, if the regional and continental bodies realized that protocols on movement of people are being abused those protocols can be amended.

While the movement of goods is taking place without serious challenges there are problems with the movement of people. Africa is a great continent with abundant human and material resources. The youth can move from one nation to the other. It is important for African leaders to enact laws to regulate the movement.

South Africa and Nigeria must know that the xenophobic actions in South Africa and Nigeria have diplomatic implications and on business setups in both countries. The governments through AU, ECOWAS, SADEC and other regional blocks must find lasting solution to the problems associated with the movement of people from one nation to the other. It is essential for leaders to do what is right to support each other because we are one people in one continent with a common destiny.



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