An anti-xenophobia march in Cape Town. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA
An anti-xenophobia march in Cape Town. Picture: EPA/NIC BOTHMA

Widespread service protests forced ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa to cut short the party’s door-to-door campaign and pay Alexandra residents a visit. This enlightened him on the longstanding issues endured by local communities at the hands of intransigent municipal leadership.

Hopefully, Ramaphosa will also look into the recent spate of xenophobic attacks instigated by the growing competition for resources. The problem has nothing to do with foreign nationals but with rogue elements in the home affairs department who allow migrants to enter the country illegally. The point is that government departments are working in silos, with political principals talking past each other as if they are clueless about our porous borders.

The security cluster lacks the resolve to deal with border-control lapses. While the trade and industry department is spearheading regional industrial integration to unlock the region's growth and development potential, the health department says What if we’re moving into a different cultural moment? it’s costly to provide free services for all. Foreigners who bring investment and scarce skills to the economy are made to suffer because of illegal migrants who put an undue burden on the health-care system.

All of this is steadily relegating SA to an island outside the global village, a blight on social cohesion and regional integration. It becomes a case of “united we stood in the struggle, now we’re falling apart” due to lack of political will to confront the real problem.

Our forebears participated at the Pan-African Conference in 1900 because they were guided by unity, which led to the eventual birth of the Organisation of African Unity. This legacy is a point of reference that there cannot be any justification for xenophobic attacks. The violence is not only cowardice but irresponsible and criminal.

Morgan Phaahla