9th December 2023 admin Category :
August 24 2015 at 01:07pm
By Babington Maravanyika
This is the belief of leading academic and respected political commentator Professor Steven Friedman of the University of Johannesburg.
In an interview, Friedman said violence against foreigners was a consequence of the messages the general public gets from people in positions of authority and some media who portray foreigners as being a problem.
“The violence on the ground is indicative of irresponsible statements by those in positions of authority like King Goodwill Zwelithini and politicians, including President Jacob Zuma, who paint migrants as a problem,” Friedman said.
He said South Africa is a republic and that the Zulu monarch was not above the law.
“King Zwelithini has not been made to account.
“In fact various politicians have made excuses for him, with some saying that he had been misquoted,” Friedman said.
He said the media was also contributing to the myth that foreigners were a problem.
“The king and politicians are not the only people making inflammatory statements against foreigners. “There are some media houses who send reporters to the Department of Home Affairs to go and find out what the department is doing about foreigners in the country,” he said.
“My opinion, which is backed by research, is that it is not true that foreigners are generally a problem in South Africa,” Friedman said.
He added that many of them were making a positive contribution to the economy, and that people should be made to understand this through positive messages that are sent out by those in authority.
He said the fact that no one was arrested when some people looted Somali shops in the townships encouraged society’s rogue elements to escalate this into xenophobic attacks in which innocent lives were lost.
He said Zuma’s statement that the government was looking at how it could help locals who own spaza shops in view of competition by foreign shop owners was not helpful as it gave the general public the impression that foreigners were giving locals unfair competition, yet this was not the case.
“Foreigners who are in the country legally and do not break the law deserve the same respect and protection as citizens,” Friedman said.
“The official message about migrants must change, otherwise we will continue to have these attacks,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that King Zwelithini was unlikely to face any censure for his inflammatory remarks on foreigners which sparked a deadly wave of attacks earlier this year.
The leading weekly paper said the Human Rights Commission which had initiated investigations into charges of hate speech against the Zulu king appeared to have run into a dead end.
The paper quoted “highly placed” sources as saying the report would exonerate the king after pressure from various groups.
The paper’s source in the commission is reported as saying the king’s representatives, at a meeting on May 19, refused to co-operate in the investigations, asking how the commission had built its case on the basis of evidence it did not have.
The commission had requested representations from the king, including the recording of the king’s controversial speech in Pongola, but the king’s representatives argued that as respondents, they were not the ones to supply evidence.