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Challenging the Rainbow Nation:

Immigration, difference and xenophobia in South Africa
by

Elyse Mathos

on 19 April 2010

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Transcript of Challenging the Rainbow Nation:

Challenging the Rainbow Nation:
immigration, difference and xenophobia in South Africa South Africa population of 49,052,489
11 official languages
ethnic groups:
black african 79%
white 9.6%
colored 8.9%
indian/asian 2.5%
as defined in the 2001 census only national flag to display 6 different colors what and why? xenophobia can be defined as the fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners or anything that is strange or foreign
Interest in south africa
Internship with a human rights non-profit ngo in Cape Town south Africa (Merriam-webster dictionary) migration prior to 1994 Dutch settlers began to arrive in 1652, followed by british and french settlers
In 1910 the British formed the Union of South Africa
The Union established the Immigrants Regulation Act of 1913, preventing black immigrants from entering South Africa
The Apartheid government continued exclusionary policies violence an important tool Policies since 1994 Transition to a democratic nation in 1994
A new vision as the rainbow nation, ensuring equal rights and opportunities and leaving behind notions of difference
Policies Aliens Control Act
Immigration Act Amendment
Refugee Act
Border and Interior Protection Public Attitudes towards Foreigners state policies largely supported by the South African population
45% support strict immigration policies
25% support support total prohibition on migration Fear and stereotypes that foreigners steal jobs, bring crime and disease Perpetuation by the Media plays an integral role in perpetuating fear and stereotypes of foreigners
Anti-immigration and non-analytical
Terms used: "alien", "criminal", "illegal", "job stealer" and other discriminatory terms
openly xenophobic statements by government officials go unquestioned by the media
A cycle of misinformation
Small amount of media outlets that take a stance against this type of reporting Xenophobia and Violence Broad historical and structural factors have contributed to the perpetuation of xenophobic attitudes, however violence has been manifested on a local level Xenophobia and Violence xenophobic attacks have been recorded since 1994
Xenophobic violence had reached its peak by 2008, particularly with the vast outbreak of violence in May
First major attack was on May 11, resulting in 2 murders, the rape of 2 women and 60 people injured
Violence continued for 2 weeks, resulting in the death of 62 people, 670 people injured, several women raped and nearly 100,000 people displaced violence under control? On may 26th, the violence was declared under control, however the situation was far from safe
Thousands fled to police stations, school and religious institutions in fear of losing their lives and homes
Threats from local South Africans and the SAPS So, why the violence? Government and economic reasons
Socio-economic reasons
Lack of information and poor enforcement
local, organized leadership
Positions exploited for personal gain
Violence and infighting persists, increasing tensions between groups Confronting the Issue Internationally, the violence has been condemned and some organizations have taken action to provide resources
South African government has taken a similar stance, yet failed to take significant action
Addressing the issue has primarily occured on a local level Concluding Thoughts and
Recommendations Overcoming xenophobia will be a long process that takes the cooperation of the South African government, local organizations and international organizations
Improvements must be made in order to counter xenophobia and prevent future violence: Promote education and awareness on relevant issues
Build stronger and more inclusive local governance structures
Promote accountability among guilty parties
Encourage media to take responsibility in reporting on immigration
Provide funding for local organizations combating xenophobia in their communities
Develop inclusive policies and more channels for legal migration
Thoughts?

Questions?

Recommendations?
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