Poor leadership has bred xenophobia in South Africa
Gory pictures and videos of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa shook the continent. But how did South Africa, and Africa at large, get here? Bad leadership has bred crises and conflict across the continent.
Tension has been building in South Africa, with foreigners always bearing the brunt of the bust-up.
Successive South African governments have failed to offer more economic prosperity to the black majority, and this has always been a ticking bomb.
Corruption and plunder of resources by a few people, enabling them to live large at the expense of the masses is a source of hatred and envy for foreigners in communities.
This is further aggravated by dangerous political rhetoric calling for reparation of national resources.
Indeed, the inability by African leaders to inspire hope in the globalisation phenomenon, coupled with dangerous rhetoric espousing false hope compounds the debacle.
It is this false hope that drives people to the extent of killing and maiming those who they feel do not belong to their community.
Globalisation is the answer to solving the current crisis not only in South Africa but also the entire continent. Self-serving leaders fight it for fear of losing political control.
However, as John Hagel lll, John Seely and Lang Davison observe in their book The Power of Pull, allowing free flow of knowledge will be a greater source of prosperity than holding largest stock of knowledge.
Given that knowledge flow through the free movement of people is a critical factor in this information age.
It is ridiculous to see people killing others because they are foreigners. Yet, encounters with other people accelerate the acquisition of new knowledge and skills.
It is critical that our leaders deliberately chart a new different leadership model. To start with, there is a need to acknowledge that every individual has a role to play in ensuring national prosperity.
Tacit knowledge that is unique to every individual must be the motivation to embracing partnership and collaboration. But this must be aided by the proper political environment.
To succeed in ending animosity, political leaders must take seriously the essence of dialogue. Political leaders inciting host communities against foreigners must be sanctioned and punished severely.
Enacting laws and policies that prohibit politicians from taking advantage of their position to propagate hatred must be a significant step towards solving disunity.
No doubt, corruption has a major role in wreaking havoc in countries and economies. Embezzlement and plunder of national resources leave communities exposed to poverty.
With poverty, conflicts set thanks to tension as people scramble for little resources available. That is when locals notice the “outsider”.
Proper institutional structures, aided by the political will to fight the corruption cancer are urgently required. Inculcating a culture of integrity and transparency will improve the working environment.
Development of better continental integration frameworks to tackle challenges like the attacks in South Africa must be given priority. A voice of unity from the Africa States is essential.
Until this is achieved, little will be achieved from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement.
Finally, using the media and its tools to name and shame those who propagate hate will go a long way to promote coexistence. —The writer comments on topical issues