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Anti-Immigrant Sentiment (2:48) Excerpt from film "Border Jumpers" July 2005
Botswanans express attitudes toward Zimbabwean migrants.

Country: Botswana
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    Guiding Questions
    1. What might explain these negative attitudes toward Zimbabweans?

    2. Does this passage illustrate the dangers of stereotyping? Why or why not?

    3. What universal issues of ethics and morality are raised by this passage?
    Background Essay
    Botswanans develop disdain for migrants from Zimbabwe, who they describe as taking their jobs and stealing their food. Some Botswanans feel there are more Zimbabweans in Botswana than Zimbabwe.

    Africa has long been saddled with poor, even malevolent, leadership. Some of the worst examples come from Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zimbabwe — countries that have been run into the ground despite their abundant natural resources. But these cases are by no means unrepresentative: by some measures, 90 percent of sub-Saharan African nations have experienced despotic rule in the last three decades. Such leaders - whether military autocrats, corrupt embezzlers, or puffed-up posturers - use power as an end in itself, rather than for the public good. These regimes have contributed greatly to the instability of the African subcontinent in recent history.

    Under the stewardship of these leaders, infrastructure in many African countries has fallen into disrepair, currencies have fallen in value, and real prices have inflated dramatically, while job availability, health care, education standards, and life expectancy have declined. Ordinary life has become increasingly difficult: general security has deteriorated, crime and corruption have increased, much-needed public funds have flowed into hidden bank accounts, and officially sanctioned ethnic discrimination — sometimes resulting in civil war — has become prevalent. This has lead to many nationals fleeing to other countries, prosperous countries with good leadership and economic possibilities.

    One of the best examples of good leadership in Africa is Botswana, which neighbors despotic Zimbabwe. Long before diamonds were discovered there, this former desert protectorate demonstrated a knack for participatory democracy, integrity, tolerance, entrepreneurship, and the rule of law. The country has remained democratic in spirit as well as form continuously since its independence from Britain in 1966 — an unmatched record in Africa. It has also defended human rights, encouraged civil liberties, and actively promoted its citizens' social and economic development.

    The sharp contrast between the political and economic situations in Botswana and Zimbabwe has led many Zimbabweans to migrate to Botswana for work or political asylum. The Wide Angle film BORDER JUMPERS illustrates the conflicts that have arisen as a result of this immigration. An influx of migrant workers into any economy leads to uncertainty for domestic workers. These situations are seen throughout the world, and cause great strain on the economy of the thriving nations. BORDER JUMPERS exemplifies the threat and the security efforts taken by Botswana, and many countries throughout the world, to control such immigration.

    Resentment towards the migrants is on the rise. A recent poll shows that 95% of Botswanans support heightened border security.

    There are too many Zimbabweans in Francistown.

    I mean you can tell there's a Zimbabwean because mostly they look dirty somehow.

    Sometimes they smell, you know.

    You know, I had a friend who was sometimes joking saying that there are more Zimbabweans here than in Zimbabwe.

    Botswana people are angry.

    They're unemployed.

    They're very angry.

    Each and every morning somebody wakes up in the morning to go out and look for a job, and only to find that a Zimbabwean guy with cheap labor has taken over the job.

    People employ Zimbabweans because they believe they're hard workers. They prefer them than the Batswana. So somehow they feel threatened, you know, yeah.

    They will do lesser jobs just to, you know, just to work. I mean it's, they need a job, so they need to work.

    So they'll do anything. Regardless of their references or CVs or whatever, they'll do work.

    The question of how to cope with the influx of illegal immigrants regularly makes headlines.

    Nomsa Ndlovu is a journalist with the Francistown Voice. She has been reporting the growing tensions between her countrymen and the border jumpers.

    Ndlovu recently reported one sensational case. A Botswanan woman suspected Zimbabweans of stealing food from her kitchen. So one night she laced it with rat poison.

    Then, as usual, these Zimbabweans ate the food but then three of them died and one managed to survive.

    Many people were saying 'Oh, we are sick and tired of the Zimbabweans stealing, And if people can just do this.' You know, everybody was applauding the old woman for doing that. So there was nobody who was regretting that maybe it resulted in the loss of a human being.

    But everybody was like, 'Oh, if everybody could just copy this woman then we will have no problems of these Zimbabweans stealing in our houses.' Nobody sympathizes with them any longer.

    Still, Ndlovu grew up in Zimbabwe and is alarmed by the rising hostility of her fellow Botswanans.

    If I didn't have anything to put on my table, if I didn't have money to pay my -- my children's school fees, to pay rent and everything, then the first person that I can look at is my neighbor.

    Related Links
    Border Jumpers on PBS.org

    ATLANTIC MONTHLY "Security Fences: The List"

    Official Web site for the Republic of Botswana

    CIA The World Factbook: Botswana

    CIA The World Factbook: Zimbabwe

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