The impact of xenophobia-Afrophobia on the informal economy in Durban CBD, South Africa
The renewed incidents of xenophobia, which engulfed South Africa, dented this country’s image, continentally and internationally. These occurrences invoke an unresolved question, thus: Can xenophobic attacks be attributed to tighter or discriminatory immigration policies or are people caught in quandary for socio-economic survival? Similarly to the pogroms in Poland against Jews, xenophobia left fatal scars, not only amongst Africans and non- Africans, and has affected the informal economy negatively. This article explores the impact of xenophobia on the operations of the informal economy on which the poor depend for socio-economic survival. For the most part of April-May 2015, the streets of Durban were deserted because of the xenophobic attacks on non-South African businesses, particularly those owned by Africans from different parts of the continent. Fear was planted in the city of Durban, which in turn led to the decline in economic activity, both formal and informal sectors, with the later bearing the most brunt. The city was turned into a battle field whereby Afro-hatred was perpetuated with the intention of causing bodily harm and making deportation threats. Nationals from other African countries, mainly Nigerians, Somalis, Malawians, Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Ethiopians and Congolese were accused of taking jobs meant for locals and suffocating their businesses as well as taking their women. In fear of their lives, non-South Africans were forced to close their businesses and to go into hiding. This article argues that the impact of xenophobia is a double-edged sword and has farreaching implications for both South Africans and non-South Africans as the local city dwellers depend on the services provided by informal businesses. The article uses both primary and secondary data. The empirical data was extracted mainly from the street traders and hawkers eking a living in the informal sector.