• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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South Africa: Trouble in paradise!

South Africa: Trouble in paradise!

About two weeks ago, the Finance Minister, Olawele Edun, frontally accused the defunct PMB regime of criminal printing of about N23 trillion. Northern Senators on Saturday alleged a criminal infusion of N3trn into the 2024 budget by powerful ghosts in Abuja.

On Friday, in one Northern state, a judge sentenced two kidnappers to death by hanging but quickly undermined himself with an advice to the felons to seek pardon from the executive since no life was lost in the process of kidnapping’ On Thursday, bandits abducted 287 students in Kaduna. On Saturday, bandits invaded a Zamfara school and stole 15 students.

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Before the school abductions, the senior brothers of bandits, Boko Haram, had kidnapped over 400 displaced persons in Borno. In Benue and Plateau, the murderous campaign against helpless people is one without ceasing. From the desert to the coast, agonising cries of existential woes fill the air. What we have is chaos pro-max’!!! (Lasisi Olagunju, Adesina, and Nigeria’s fatal abductions, Tribune, 11/3/24). He must have berthed his column before a group of Bandits PLC (quoted in the Criminal Entrepreneurship Exchange) audaciously demanded N40trn, 11 Hilux vans, and 150 motorcycles to appease their gods so that they would release some Kaduna kidnapees!

This is in a country where the Federal Budget, padded or not, and to be funded mostly by borrowing and taxing the lives of the people, is between N23 and N28 trillion! So, how can the son of man leave this grievous and grim situation in Nigeria to dwell on trouble in South Africa? Well, in an academic forum where I belong, anybody who says anything that is critical of the BATified government is termed a tribalist, even when some of those with contrary spirits are full-blooded Amalakites! Somebody has also accused me of acute BATfobia. I therefore decided to redeem myself by taking another sabbatical from Nigerian matters for a while. Whether I will succeed in doing so and for how long is another matter. But let me start today.

Trouble in Paradise is a film and musical that premiered in 1932 and depicts a situation where things go wrong or are expected to be the other way around. The musical version, released in 1980, conveys the same message as the film version. The author argues that trouble is thickening in South Africa, where people are seeking greener pastures and killing dead bodies in the high seas. This does not mean peace has been restored in Mandela’s land, but a recrudescence of murderous rage against foreigners, including Nigerians, is in the offing.

Q: “This is in a country where the Federal Budget, padded or not, and to be funded mostly by borrowing and taxing the lives of the people, is between N23 and N28 trillion!”

In February 2024, a video emerged threatening foreigners for economically affecting natives. This led to the formation of Operation Dudula, a xenophobic political party with a core agenda of dealing with immigrants, who they blame for poverty, poor healthcare, and unemployment. The party identifies immigrants, their addresses, and businesses, and then “finishes them.” However, the author argues that foreigners are not responsible for their economic struggles, as they are not skilled in the same fields as natives. Operation Dudula, formed in 2020, plans to contest the 2024 election, escalating their xenophobic dynamics.

Read also: Edun seeks extension of IFAD projects in Nigeria

After watching this chilling video with their concrete threats against immigrants, I put a call through two of my acquaintances there, and they assured me that they were safe. I then ‘commissioned’ an anonymous consultant to give me a clear picture of what’s going on. He described it as a sad and complex situation, strategically x-rayed it, and outlined the unfortunate combination of circumstances that led to this:

1. The borders have been porous since the collapse of apartheid. The Mbeki presidency had a very pan-African world view and was accommodating of Zimbabwean nationals, who account for the largest proportion of illegals (no thanks to his quiet diplomacy when that once beautiful country was imploding under Mugabe’s gerontocracy and misguided and poorly implemented land reform policies).

2. Immigrants are by nature more daring, more pushy, and more desperate than locals. The small provision stores (called spazas) were one of the bedrocks of the local black township economy. It is now in the firm grip of a combination of Ethiopian and Somalian cartels. (pretty much like Igbo traders in northern Nigeria).

3. A generation of African professionals, especially those that came in in the first 15 years (the Mandela/Mbeki era), made remarkable success of their lives and careers.

4. There is a massive drug problem, and most Nigerian immigrants are considered (and it is largely true) drug dealers, except they are clear-cut professionals like medical personnel, lecturers, accountants, etc. Most unfortunately, the majority of diaspora town unions have been effectively “captured” by immensely wealthy individuals of questionable means of income, which explains the endless feuds and bloody shootings you read about involving the likes of Bishop Ozobulu, etc.

5. The Zuma ‘wasted’ years coincided with a meltdown in the economy, increased state corruption, massive youth unemployment, and inflation.

For a citizenry used to state welfare (almost half of black South Africans receive one form of monthly financial allowance from the state), all the above has led to massive resentment. Human nature sometimes thrives on scapegoatism’ and, you guessed right in this case, THE FOREIGNER.

Read also: Edun blames inflation on eight years of printing money without productivity

Operation Dudula is turning into a political party targeting foreigners, making 2024 a hot year for South Africa. Most foreigners are from Zimbabwe, Somalia, and Ethiopia, taking over Nigeria’s retail trade. Abike Dabiri should advise people to be aware of potential dangers and avoid categorising Nigerians by tribes or dividing them into saints and sinners.

I had wanted to argue that this scenario is common in Nigeria. People from certain areas are asked to ‘go home’, prevented from voting, their business areas are always targeted for environmental cleansing, and they receive more highhanded treatment when they run afoul of the law. Just the other day, the courts threw out a case seeking to expel a certain tribe from Nigeria. But I won’t say this because I have decided to leave Nigeria alone, at least for today.


Ik Muo, PhD. Dept of Business Admin, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. 0803302662