State must act now to stop the violence

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Supplied

Can you imagine being in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s shoes right now? He is playing host to heads of state at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa in Cape Town, trying to convince business leaders of SA’s attractiveness as an investment destination. Only, there is a massive elephant in the room. Across the country, in Johannesburg, South Africans are attacking foreign nationals, looting and burning their shops and clashing with the police.

Five lives have been lost and 189 people arrested since Sunday.

The rest of Africa is beginning to retaliate. Zambia has pulled out of a friendly soccer match against Bafana Bafana. Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage has pulled out of an upcoming festival in SA.

Shoprite and MTN stores have been trashed in Nigeria. And this is probably just the beginning.

While we do not tolerate violence in any form, it is perhaps this kind of retaliation that will propel us as a nation to do better.

Perhaps being isolated from the rest of Africa, and the world, will force us to stand up against the xenophobic attacks in SA as well as the belief that our African brothers and sisters are stealing our jobs from us.

What is devastatingly clear from this wave of anti-foreigner violence is that our police are hopelessly illequipped to deal with this crisis.

Our government is also fumbling around and not showing decisive leadership during this dark period as we search desperately for something to give us hope.

What we need to see is immediate action from our government to restore calm.

It also needs to get to the root cause of the problem and develop a bold plan with concrete steps and time-frames to address the symptoms.

The government can no longer afford to sit back and hope for the best. Not if it wants to rebuild our economy and bring back social stability.