Xenophobia is reaction to social dumping
- There is no country in the world that ever developed by allowing its unskilled young people to migrate to other countries.
- Americans did not achieve their prosperity by running away from American problems.
The violence meted out by South Africans on foreigners should not be dismissed as irrational acts of xenophobia, but be seen as the result of policy failures someplace at some point.
It is not only a result of policy failures in the host country, but more so a failure on the part of African nations that have not planned well for their young people.
There is no country in the world that ever developed by allowing its unskilled young people to migrate to other countries.
The obvious outcome of such a situation is poverty and tensions in diplomatic relations of the affected countries.
This is to be blamed on social dumping — the uncontrolled mass movement of poor, semi-literate, unskilled and unemployable, and sometimes undocumented young people from one country to another.
The most likely reaction is hostility from the host communities.
Some of today’s lurid eventualities of social dumping are manifest in the huge presence of Nigerian hawkers, sex workers, cigarette sellers, drug peddlers, pastors, taxi drivers, kiosk keepers and small-scale alcohol dealers in South Africa.
Although it is often defensible as an act of international job creation, the fact is that such kinds of jobs need not be created and held by foreigners.
The economic impact of social dumping is not only a problem for South Africa, Kenya is also a victim.
In the past 10 years, Kenya has received thousands of young and unskilled migrants from Uganda, Congo, Tanzania, China, Sudan, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Burundi and Nigeria.
These are often undocumented, they settle in the urban areas without a specific job to do and end up involving themselves in social and economic activities that only add to the economic and social burden of the host government.
The idea of unskilled young people going to create jobs in a foreign country does not make sense in the modern world.
The fact is that the unskilled Nigerian did not create any job in his home country and therefore cannot create any in a foreign one.
In Turkana County, it is said that over half of the boda-boda and service providers in the bars in Lodwar town are from Gumi district in eastern Uganda.
Just last month, women politicians in Busia County were reported to have threatened to organise a public protest march against the increasing population of commercial sex workers in Busia Town, allegedly from Uganda.
In Eldoret town, there have been reports that more than 90 per cent of the street beggars are from Tanzania.
The effect of social dumping statistically looks negligible, but the cumulative outcome is substantial haemorrhage of capital from the host economy to others.
Xenophobia is antipan-African, but pan-Africanism must promote good governance. Every country must plan for its young citizens.
And, as Africans, we must stay at home and work on our countries’ problems. Americans did not achieve their prosperity by running away from American problems.
The writer is a commentator on social issues;