It is time for South Africans to address the real issues at hand instead of using immigrants as scapegoats. Corruption and mismanagement in the government are the real culprits behind the country’s struggles, not those seeking a better life within our borders. Only through ethical leadership and clean governance can our country truly thrive and overcome its challenges.

By Themba Khumalo

It behoves us to approach the issue of immigration with a sense of depth and wisdom, refraining from succumbing to the tide of unfounded accusations that seek to vilify entire groups of individuals.

We must uphold the values of reason and fairness when discussing such complex and sensitive matters, resisting the temptation to make sweeping generalisations without concrete evidence.

As a society, we must strive towards a more nuanced and enlightened discussion regarding immigration, one characterised by empathy, understanding, and respect for all human beings, irrespective of their background or origins.

The irresponsible and reckless use of firebomb language in South Africa is not only troubling but also extremely dangerous. In a country with a history scarred by violent attacks on immigrants, this kind of rhetoric can only increase the likelihood of future violence. Baseless accusations only serve to sow fear, division, and hostility among different groups. We must speak out against this harmful behaviour and strive for unity and understanding.

Take former jailbird Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance, which has been actively promoting xenophobic sentiments. During an event at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on 25 November, he took his rhetoric to toxic heights, as usual. He spewed strong anti-foreigner vitriol, accusing them of selling drugs to children, stealing jobs, and threatening to harm them.

He declared that ‘illegal foreigners’ should leave the country and even went as far as suggesting that he would take drastic actions against them, such as switching off their oxygen supply to those in hospitals, once he assumed office. Thank God, there is no way in hell that this politically bankrupt bandit will become president.

“The devil sent other devils here to sell drugs to our children and to take the jobs of our children,” said McKenzie.

“They are going to go home, mabahambe. We don’t want illegal foreigners here.

“After we have been sworn in, I am going straight to the Rahima Moosa Hospital, where we are going to switch off the oxygen of illegal foreigners,” blurted McKenzie.

This type of utterance is as criminal as a thief in the night, an outright crime that is as far removed from politics as the North Pole is from the equator. Secondly, there is no science or analysis of McKenzie’s thoughts; it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack without even knowing what a needle looks like.

This was not the first time McKenzie declared himself the self-proclaimed oxygen vigilante, roaming the streets with oversized scissors, determined to carry out his twisted plan. His comments during the COVID-19 crisis were shocking and downright evil.

He announced that if he had been president, he would personally go to a hospital and remove oxygen from undocumented foreigners. His toxic verbal ejaculation, an extreme viewpoint, revealed a lack of compassion and empathy towards those who were already vulnerable during such a difficult time.

“I would unplug that gas that they were enjoying from South Africa, and I would bring somebody from South Africa, and I would connect them to the gas. If they must die, they must die,” McKenzie spewed at the time.

The use of xenophobic language in politics is like playing with fiery matches in a petrol station; it has consequences as destructive as an atomic bomb. The echoes of the lethal xenophobia from fifteen years ago still move hauntingly in our memories, eerie as fog on a lake at night and sound like a soul-gnawing melody.

The events of 2008 in our country serve as a warning balefire, a reminder of the dark abyss that hatred-filled speeches can lead us into. It was a time when brothers clashed like thunder and sisters wept like fallen raindrops, all under the watchful eyes of cheering hordes encouraging violence. Let us never forget the cost of such division, for it is as devastating as a storm that leaves behind nothing but ruins.

The scars of xenophobia run deep in our country, like a festering wound that refuses to heal. The events of 2008 must always serve as a grim reminder of what happens when we let fear and hatred rule our hearts. We must stand united against the darkness that threatens to tear us apart, for the cost of division is too high to bear. Let us not be swayed by the venomous speeches of those who seek to sow discord among us, but instead, let us come together as one Africa, strong and resilient in the face of adversity.

It is truly disconcerting to witness the continued toxic animosity directed towards our fellow African brothers and sisters, fueled by baseless xenophobic attitudes. Scapegoating and discriminating against individuals from different parts of the continent will not magically fix the deep-rooted socio-economic issues that plague South Africa.

Also, the presence of undocumented or documented immigrants has zilch, sifuri, nada, lutho, niks, and nothing to do with the colossal failures of state-owned entities like Eskom and Transnet, for example. To think so is not only ignorant but also deflects responsibility from where it truly lies—corrupt leadership and mismanagement.

South Africa’s need for ethical governance is as urgent as a sailor navigating treacherous waters. Like a beacon in the storm, principled leadership can guide the country towards a brighter future. Let’s break free from the chains of xenophobia and soar like an eagle, embracing innovative policies that will uplift not just our country, but the entire African continent.

By and large, I am a dreamer, filled with a beautiful and prosperous African dream. In my dream, Africa rises like a phoenix from the ashes of self-doubt and insecurity, spreading its wings wide in the vast sky of possibilities. It blooms like a desert rose, vibrant and resilient, embracing its unique beauty with pride and grace. This future is a tapestry of colours, woven with threads of unity and hope, where diversity shimmers like a diamond in the sun’s warm embrace.

It is a vision that dances in my mind like a majestic eagle soaring high above, free from the shackles of self-hatred.

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