Cape Town - Research has found that the online anti-foreigner conversation continues to flourish, with proponents citing a number of South Africa’s socio-economic challenges, including unemployment, crime and service delivery, as reasons why foreign nationals should leave.
The research by the Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change is based on research of online conversations on social media in January this year and has been published in a report titled Project: Xenophobia.
The research found tweets that received the most traction over the reporting period were focused on the activities of alleged foreign national drug dealers and the associated community unrest or raids that ensued.
The report read in part: “The behavioural drivers (categories) identified in this report don’t exist in silos and are often used together to embed feelings of anger toward foreigners.
“The use of disinformation to rile up communities cannot be ignored and past examples of this have resulted in violence and deaths.”
The report looked at conversations on Twitter where foreign nationals were blamed for a number of social ills including human trafficking, prostitution, the failing health-care system and corruption, among others.
The report emerged at the same time as the SA Local Government Association (Salga) held a national summit on migration, discussing how municipalities could alleviate the burden of border control and documentation of immigrants.
The Salga summit focused on the impact of unmanaged migration on limited municipal resources and was attended by mayors, municipal managers, civil society and business representatives.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that the summit had been convened at a time when things have already “gone sour”, and cited various documented problems that had emerged as a result of unmanaged migration in the country.
Motsoaledi said that his department had “declared war” on corruption and was dismissing officials guilty of colluding with criminals to obtain fraudulent identification and South African passports.
Salga president Bheki Stofile said illegal migration presented unique challenges to municipalities and affected the processes of the municipalities differently.