Xenophobic violence and globalisation discourses for contemporary South Africa

13 Nov 2017

This paper takes cognizance that the causes of xenophobic violence in the second economy of South Africa remain contested. Moreover, there exists an assortment of interpretations regarding the causes of xenophobic violence including but not limited to: general hatred, poverty, unemployment and inequality inter alia. Over and above these observations, this paper edifies that perhaps the nature of the second economy and its market structure could engage the prevailing discourses on the probable instigations of xenophobic violence in South Africa particularly amongst street traders. It further alludes that Africa, and its disintegrated nature, is not perfectly poised to respond to globalisation requirement notwithstanding its resource rich nature inter alia. It observes that the informal economy within which street trading operates is pigeonholed by the perfectly competitive market structure. That is, there is free entry and exit into the market, homogenous goods and services, perfect knowledge about the market price and a paucity of government intervention to influence the market price. Thus, fellow foreign nationals who have resources and robust business acumen as opposed to local indigent sprouting entrepreneurs that have been historically alienated and marginalised in many ways begin to dominate the informal economy. Understandably, the former would gain competitive edge over the latter given their proven ability to manoeuvre through the informal economy and its convenient market structure that allows complete freedom of entry and exit. Additionally, the paucity of government intervention to protect, influence and regulate the informal economy of South Africa creates an attractive business space for the ingenious, resourced and competitive foreign entrepreneurs to deluge local street trading. Consequently, the informal street businesses of the foreign nationals continue to flourish thereby creating a possibility for local street traders to develop envy, jealousy and eventually hatred. Therefore, anger and frustration begins to develop amid local street traders resulting in xenophobic attacks, violence and looting. In light of the aforesaid, this paper conceptually posits that the informal economy and its unregulated nature give impetus to xenophobic violence between foreign and local street traders. It concludes that general hatred, unemployment, poverty and inequality could not be the only reasons of xenophobic violence. The informal economy and its market structure coupled by its miscellaneous nature inter alia engender xenophobic violence and mayhem within the informal sector.