XENOPHOBIA AND THE LEADERSHIP FACTOR IN ALEXANDRA
LIPHOKO, MOTHEPANE ELIZABETH
South African townships were dominated by a storm of violence in 2008. The attacks in Gauteng Province started in Alexandra Township on the 11 May 2008. The violence was inflicted on foreign nationals by South Africans. The communities and the authorities worked hard to normalise the situation and by late 2008 the situation had normalised. Some foreign nationals returned to their countries of origin while others decided to bite the bullet and return to the same areas they were ejected from during the attacks. These attacks erupt every now and then and the recent one was in Alexandra where residents alleged that houses were issued to foreign nationals while South Africans could not get any whatsoever. Some research-based reports emerged following the 2008 xenophobic violence, indicating how different leaders of different social institutions served as the responding agents and sites of future conflict resolution efforts. These findings opened doors for more research on the role of leadership in dealing with xenophobia in Alexandra. Leadership has been there and is still there to deal with xenophobia in the area, what is not known is what are the leadership factors in dealing with xenophobia on the part of the locals in Alexandra, what leadership trends are being followed in dealing with xenophobia. The purpose of this research was to gain deeper and better understanding of the factors leading to the perceived lack of Alexandra leadership in dealing with xenophobia in Alexandra from the community members and community leadership of Alexandra. The study analysed and recommended leadership strategies which can be considered in dealing with xenophobia in Alexandra. The findings and recommendations of this study may assist with the strategies that can be applied to prevent xenophobic attacks in South Africa as well as internationally. This qualitative research method used one-on-one interviews as a method to collect data. The results of the study suggest that the leadership is still using the traditional methods of leadership. The issue of communication is still not up to standard given the findings from the study on poor flow of information. Information is flowing from top-down only and there is no free flow of information to all levels of the organization’s hierarchy. The way information is flowing raises a challenge of community members being unable to provide feedback to leadership. This is an indication of lack of interaction and relations. The leadership style adopted by leadership in Alexandra is more threatening to community members than being corrective and developmental. 5 It is therefore recommended that leadership move away from using the traditional way of leadership and evolves to new sciences leadership. The leadership in Alexandra, in dealing with xenophobia, must consider the leadership strategies such as cconsultation with community in planning implementing and monitoring activities/ projects that are related with xenophobia. For people to change from being xenophobic to being tolerant is a process which needs continuous intervention. Activities aiming at addressing change are therefore supposed to be continuous and not once off. The support provided to people need to not only emphasise the plans and strategies but also look into a human element. The plans are not undergoing change but the human being is.
MM (P&DM) thesis