Protests and Xenophobia douse SA investment drive

The World Economic Forum is no stranger to protests; anti-globalisation protesters regularly try to derail WEF meetings where the rich and powerful in business and politics get together to discuss how to “improve the state of the world.” When South Africa agreed to host the World Economic Forum in Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa saw this as the opportunity to boost his investment drive and place South Africa not only as the gateway to Africa, but right at the top of the continent’s investment destinations. The xenophobic attacks could not have happened at a worse time; it led to the withdrawal of three African Presidents, the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, President of DR Congo, Felix Tshisekedi and the President of Malawi, Peter Mutharika. Nigeria, whose citizens have borne the brunt of the xenophobic attacks sent an envoy to South Africa to express the country’s displeasure at the treatment of its citizens. And to add to Ramaphosa’s woes, activists against femicide decided the WEF in Africa meeting was the ideal opportunity to highlight their grievances. Scenes of water cannons used to douse the protests were beamed across the world adding another severe dent in Ramaphosa’s investment plans. – Linda van Tilburg

Attacks, protests spoil South Africa’s investment showcase

By Mike Cohen and Paul Vecchiatto

(Bloomberg) – The World Economic Forum on Africa was supposed to be South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s chance to prove his nation’s claim to being the continent’s top investment destination. It’s all gone horribly wrong.

The lead-up to the gathering of political and business leaders in Cape Town was marred by a series of xenophobic attacks, with scores of foreign-owned businesses burnt and looted, and mass protests against horrific abuse of women. A demonstration was held outside the WEF meeting on Wednesday and saw police firing stun grenades and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

On Thursday, about 10,000 protesters gathered outside parliament in the city to demand that the government do more to tackle femicide, and Ramaphosa canceled an appearance at WEF to address them. He pledged to announce an action plan in a nationwide address later in the day.

One woman is killed in South Africa every three hours, police statistics show, while the country has been plagued by intermittent attacks on foreigners, who are seen by some in poor communities as competitors for jobs, housing and business opportunities. At least seven people have been killed in the latest wave of attacks, which have drawn outrage from other African government.

The violence couldn’t have come at a worse time for Ramaphosa, who’s been on a drive to attract $100bn of new investment, revive the economy and tackle a 29% unemployment rate.