In 2008 in Gauteng, fellow brothers and sisters from the continent were injured and killed in violent xenophobic attacks. In January this year, violence broke out between foreign nationals and locals in Alexandra after a Somali shop owner shot and killed a 14-year-old who tried to rob his shop. Looting followed. It then spread to Diepsloot and the West Rand. This week, xenophobic violence erupted in Kwa Zulu Natal and Johannesburg, leaving at least six people dead and displacing thousands.
We must never condone any form of violence. We must never celebrate when a fellow human being is killed or attacked simply because they are of a different nationality.
As Africans we need to ask ourselves why there is no peace and stability on the continent. Why is it that we as Africans are not benefiting from our own resources? South Africa is a young democracy and a lot still needs to be as we build a prosperous country with equal opportunities for all citizens. Many of our brothers and sisters from across the continent come to South Africa due to socioeconomic reasons, and seek to find a better life for themselves. Although all African countries are politically independent, many are still not economically independent.
While the ANC-led government has made significant achievements post-1994, South Africa is still not where it needs to be in terms of dealing with unemployment and poverty. One hopes that at the African Union summit due to be held in South Africa in June, our heads of states will have frank, robust, and constructive engagements on the economy of the continent and how to work together to fight our economic challenges. Migration needs to be looked from a very sober point of view that will help us to take the continent forward and guarantee peace and stability.
African people must never fight each other for economic space. Economic freedom is needed in the continent. This will reduce migration caused by poverty and political instability on the continent.
It is a big concern that African countries are unable to fully fund the AU’s budget. A situation where the West funds more than 70% of it is untenable. We get crumbs from our own resources and we are still divided according to who colonised us. Let us all reflect on why the AU budget is funded by the West when we have our own heads of states. To quote the great Thomas Sankara, “He who feeds you, controls you.” We have seen in the past how the West dictates how the AU budget must be used and for what programmes. We need the political will from our leaders to make sure that Africa is economically liberated. We need to get to the root cause of our problems and find lasting solutions that will make a difference to the people of this continent.
Attacks on each other will not resolve the economic challenges we are facing as Africans. Our leaders must work together in making sure that poverty is eliminated, and that we build a strong continent. Co-operation with other continents is important, but it must be on our terms in order to benefit the people of this continent and take us forward as Africans.
Rebone Tau is a former national task team member of the ANC Youth League and former chairperson of its international relations subcommittee. She writes in her personal capacity.