Vicky Somniso-Abraham
3 minute read
30 Apr 2015
4:30 am

SA a beacon of hope for foreigners

Vicky Somniso-Abraham

South Africa has become a beacon of hope for millions of African foreign nationals who flee their own countries due to political problems, wars, high unemployment and poverty.

FILE PICTURE: A child waving a South African flag. Pic: Alaister Russell.

In a bid to establish the contributing factors that have resulted to the influx of foreign nationals in South Africa, The Citizen conducted telephone interviews with a number of South African based foreign national leaders. Unlike in their own countries, where they can be terrorised and exterminated just for voicing out their views, they freely outlined the contributing factors that lead to many of their people fleeing from their home countries.

Congolese in Diaspora Networks executive delegate Prince Abenge said there were many job and business opportunities in Congo but due to wars, many come to South Africa and other countries for safety.

“We are told there are about 600 000 Congolese in South Africa. The killings, abductions and rapes of women in our country have caused people to flock to other countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, the UK, France, Belgium and the US. Millions of people have been killed, therefore in order to feel safe they flee because a person can get killed at any time,” said Abenge.

Chairperson of the Zimbabwean Community in South Africa Ngqabutho Mabhena said many Zimbabweans left the country because of the Matabeleland genocides in 1983 to 1986.

“The Matebele, who are the extension of the Zulus were marginalised therefore they had to leave the country. Others left the country due to loss of jobs which resulted in high unemployment rate in Zimbabwe. Other reasons are political violence in the country which resulted to millions flocking to South Africa,” said Mabhena.

“Others left the country due to loss of jobs and high unemployment. Another reason is political violence.”

It has been reported that there are more than 2 million Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa.

Chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF) Marc Gbaffou also said economic problems, human abuse and refugee seeking have resulted in the influx of foreign nationals in the country.

He said there are about 1200 people from Ivory Coast who live in South Africa.

“I was leader of a union therefore I had to flee from my own country as they wanted to arrest me. If you belong to an opposition party you get killed. You sleep and the following day when your family wakes up they discover that you have disappeared and they can’t find you anywhere,” said Gbaffou.

Spokesperson for the Swaziland Solidarity Network Lucky Lukhele said problems in Swaziland emerged back in 1973, after the banning of political parties by King Sobhuza II. He said there are about 200 000 both legal and illegal Swazis in South Africa.

Lukhele said there is a political crisis in Swaziland and abuse of power by King Mswati III and believes SADC should address such issues. In Swaziland it is a serious crime to sing songs of freedom, chant political slogans or wear political clothes. Many have been either arrested or killed for speaking against the injustices in Swaziland

President of the Rwanda National Congress in Africa Frank Ntwali said Rwanda is ruled by dictators who only believe in the autocratic leadership style.

“It is not by choice that our people flee from their country, they want a place where they can be able to survive. There is no democracy in Rwanda, the leadership is autocratic. If you voice out your concerns they look for you and when they find you, they kill you. If you don’t have a country that you can call home you find yourself going anywhere,” said Ntwali.

The Chairman of Members of all Nigerian Nationals in Diaspora for Africa Mr Jason Osuafor said: “Nigeria was ruled by a military government and that messed up the economy of our country. We experienced hardships and due to high unemployment rate people started to look for job opportunities outside Nigeria.”