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SA's reluctance to deal with xenophobia may breed far-right politics: experts

They said the reluctance to deal with xenophobia and the South African public's violent predisposition were enabling an environment which could result in far-right politics.

Foreign shop owners gathered what was left of their property after community members looted their stores in Alexandra township on 3 September 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Experts have warned of the creation of divisive and destructive politics should government not deal with rising anti-immigration sentiments.

They said the reluctance to deal with xenophobia and the South African public's violent predisposition were enabling an environment which could result in far-right politics.

Experts have warned of the creation of divisive and destructive politics should government not deal with rising anti-immigration sentiments.

They said the reluctance to deal with xenophobia and the South African public's violent predisposition were enabling an environment which could result in far-right politics.

Scenes of anti-immigration and anti-integration mass protests across the United States and some parts of Europe are a common feature on international media platforms.

The far-right politics which often evoke negative stances towards groups that are deemed as undesirable in society have always appeared to be far from home.

But with South Africa engulfed by yet another outbreak of hate crimes against immigrants, senior research specialist at the Human Science Research Council Dr Steve Gordon said the South African government has to act now or the country could face a similar fate.

“The degree at which anti-immigrants’ sentiment has worked politics around our European and North American neighbours is quite alarming and stark and should present a significant warning to the South African government.”

The Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s Dominique Dix-Peek said anti-immigration from countries like the US influences perceptions.

“The United States and places like that are influencing in countries like South Africa. So, as they close their borders, it seems acceptable to close their borders.”

Xenowatch has recorded 529 xenophobic violence incidents that resulted in 309 deaths in South Africa between 1994 and 2018.

Xenowatch is a monitoring tool developed by Wits University’s African Centre for migration and society.

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