Reverse Xenophobia: Immigrants Attitudes to Citizens in Botswana
Gwen Lesetedi, Tirelo Modie-Moroka
The concept of Xenophobia is typically used to describe fear or dislike of foreigners or in general, people different from one's self. Xenophobia is generally, the dislike or intolerance of foreigners. This fear or dislike may be attributed to competition for scarce resources, employment, housing, services, facilities and even simple physical space. This can result in violence, resentment, hostility and abuse both verbally and physically of the foreigners by the locals. The current politico-social and economic situation in some parts of Africa has resulted in large numbers of citizens leaving in search of greener pastures. This situation has particularly been worse for Zimbabwe, from which many people have migrated over the years to South Africa, Botswana and Namibia and the rest of the world. Due to proximity to Zimbabwe, SADC countries have become hosts to these fleeing immigrants. The immigrants in the initial stages are welcome but as the influx increases they are met with a lot of hostility. Past studies in Southern Africa generally have established that most locals tend to be usually intolerant of outsiders, at times accusing them of contributing to the escalating crime rate and spreading diseases. These feelings are spread over the local community and they cut across age education, gender and economic status. Immigrants both legal and illegal have been accused of taking the jobs of locals and contributing to the lowering of wages. These sentiments are not only expressed by the members of the public but also at senior government levels and at times are even reflected in official documents. Very few studies, however, have explored how the immigrants in turn perceive their hosts –the locals. This paper explores xenophobia from the view point of Zimbabweans and how they perceive the local communities. Based on a quantitative as well as a qualitative study conducted in Botswana, this paper examines the attitudes of the Zimbabweans towards Batswana. In depth interviews and focus-group discussions were conducted amongst immigrants and mainly among the Zimbabweans. The results of the reveals that most of the immigrants do display some form of reverse xenophobia.