Dudula, a misdirected and misguided operation

The situation in South Africa is getting out of hand, with the past two months having seen an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment agitated by the Dudula Operation, a splinter group from a faction in the Put South Africans First movement.

Zimbabweans have borne the brunt of the resultant xenophobic attacks, which have targeted mostly African immigrants, who have been accused of snatching jobs from locals.

It would appear the attacks on immigrants are driven by political parties, including some sections within the ruling African National Congress (ANC), not just the usual Right Wing proponents.

Political parties in South Africa, with the exception of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema, have been pushing the anti-immigrant agenda in order to score cheap political points ahead of the country’s 2024 general elections.

And the brutal murder of Elvis Nyathi, who was pelted with stones and burnt alive in Diepsloot North of Johannesburg last week was a culmination of the buildup of xenophobic sentiments.

Surely the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa should have foreseen the danger that faced its citizens living and working in that country and make arrangements for their protection.

Unfortunately, this will certainly not be the last tragedy given the ever increasing xenophobic sentiments by South Africans of various shades and pretense.

It is however, to note that much of the anger is misdirected.

First; this situation is a consequence of declining socio-economic standards in post-Apartheid South Africa as well as unresolved structural issues that the country has failed to address 30 years into independence.

Poor migrants have become easy targets for the release of the bottled anger by South Africans, whether real or contrived. This must be worrying for governments like Zimbabwe, which has witnessed its citizenry trek down south in droves in search of ‘greener pastures’.

However, it is sad to note that not only does the Zimbabwe Mission in South Africa lack resources for emergency responses in case of xenophobic attacks, it would appear that it has also lost the diplomatic voice and muscle to challenge this dire situation.

As the situation unfolds, Zimbabweans curiously wait to find out what the next step by Zimbabwe will be.

First of all, there is need for a cordial conversation with the host country on its rights and obligations to all people who live in South Africa.

The government of Zimbabwe, on the other hand, must also face up to the perception that it has failed its people, hence the exodus down South to the extent that this has become a sticking point irrespective of the fact that this is unhistorical and unscientific.

There is need for Zimbabwe and South Africa to systematically tackle the root causes of this migration crisis, that include, but not limited to, addressing economic challenges in Zimbabwe.

It is a fact that there is an inequality gap between the two countries in terms of industrialization which has led to South Africa attracting cheap labour from Zimbabwe on one hand, and South Africa dumping cheap goods in Zimbabwe on the other.

Many other economic indices have taken this asymmetrical shape.

If there is to be a long term solution within a true spirit of cooperation and brotherhood, the two countries must work together to strengthen each other so as to lessen imbalances that result in social problems such as the current migration exodus.

This, however, is something that cannot be achieved overnight, hence the need for quick short term solutions to quell the current outbreak of violence.

The government of Zimbabwe needs therefore, to take urgent steps to resource and capacitate the Zimbabwe Mission in South Africa to deal with the current crisis while escalating dialogue on a much higher level.

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