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The xenophobic attacks reflect the failure by the ANC government to close the gap between the two different countries" that South Africa has become in the last 15 years.
The first country, visibly white and wealthy, signifies South Africa's dramatic successes in pulling back from racism, violence and human rights abuses of the apartheid era to political stability anchored on a liberal constitution, relatively impartial courts, faster economic growth than under apartheid and inflow of foreign investment.
African migrants with high professional skills, technology and resources to invest in businesses have settled in this "country", which has met the UN millennium Development Goals (MDGs) long before the 2015 finish line.
The second "country", manifestly black and impoverished, is characterised by economic woes, widespread poverty, unemployment, huge inequalities, violent crime, and anger.
Poor black migrants from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Angola now under attack in Alexandra and other townships drifted into this "country", which like many African countries may never achieve MDGs at the present pace of economic growth.
As for now, the first "country" has not been engulfed in xenophobia.
But the second "country" is up in flames of hatred against foreigners, which has the potential of spreading to the first "country".
The existence of the two countries side by side signifies the failure of post-apartheid policies to roll back the Apartheid-era legacy of racial inequalities, black poverty and unemployment.
These woes have been compounded by stalled efforts to halt violent crime, job-poaching, housing allocations, poor service delivery, lax law enforcement and corruption, which have eroded public faith in formal structures to address grievances, and emboldened vigilantism and xenophobia.
For 13 years, the ANC has pursued the market-friendly Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy adopted in 1996 to attract direct foreign investment and make South Africa a competitive trading nation.
However, GEAR has failed to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor parts of Africa's wealthiest economy.
Along with Brazil, South Africa has become one of the most unequal societies in the world with a Gini coefficient (a number between 0 and 1 as a measure of inequality) of around 0.6.
Although the number of poor South Africans has expanded from a coverage rate of 2.5 million in 1994 to over 12.7 million in 2008, persistent inequalities remain a dangerous force.
Similarly, the ANC adopted the policy of "Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) to "deracialise" the economy and close the gap between whites and the poor blacks. But the policy has benefited only a small number of politically-connected black South Africans, producing a tiny "BEE-llionaires".
Lamenting on this development, the newly elected ANC Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, quipped: "Certain individuals are not satisfied with a single bout of empowerment. Instead, they are the beneficiaries of repeated bouts of re-empowerment. We see the same names mentioned over and over again in one deal after another."
As a result, roughly 45 per cent of South Africa's 47 million people, vastly black, are impoverished and unemployment stands at nearly 40 per cent.
Lack of skills rather than job opportunities is the main challenge for black South Africans.
As a 2006 research showed, the fast-growing information technology sector alone has 70,500 vacancies expected to reach 113,900 by 2009.
Mbeki's administration launched the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) in January 2006 to accelerate skills development among black South African.
But JIPSA has been slow in equipping locals with skills to take over jobs in the first-tier economy.
Ironically, xenophobic attacks have deepened the crisis in the second tier economy, the abode of Africans.
Tourism which employs a million people has suffered cancellations of bookings in the aftermath of violence.
Mines are also either scaling down or threatening to close down because foreigners constitute a third of the labour force.
The hope of attracting an estimated half a million foreign visitors to the 2010 soccer World Cup hangs in the balance as a result of South Africa's cycles of violence crime and now reputation for intolerance.
Xenophobic terror strikes at the heart of the African Renaissance project that the ANC mooted to open up South Africa to the rest of Africa and to advance its political and economic interests on the continent.
The pervading image of apartheid South Africa was that of "a white tip of a black continent".
Geo-politically, it was a "little more than the West's lackey on the southern tip of Africa".
On the eve of transition from apartheid to democracy in December 1993, former President Nelson Mandela declared that, "South Africa cannot escape its African destiny".
Mandela genuinely believed that South Africa's "future is inextricably linked to the future of the African continent."
He even married Graça Machel, the widow of the late Mozambican President, Samora Machel.
However, not all of his countrymen shared Mr Mandela's passion for Africa and its people.
Amid the attacks and neck-lacing of Mozambican migrants, Edith Tefo, 65, bizarrely faulted Mr Mandela for marrying Graça, a Mozambican national, accusing her of giving foreigners "freedom to come to SA the way they like".
Mr Mandela's successor, Mr Mbeki, had even a stronger passion and connection with Africa, where he spent his exile years.
Mr Mbeki's 1996 famous "I am an African" speech on the occasion of the adoption of the new constitution has come to signify South Africa's official turn away from its apartheid-era white identity to an African identity and pan-African outlook.
Mr Mbeki also popularized the concept of "African Renaissance', aimed at helping the continent resolve some of its worst crises without meddling from the western world.
As the basis of African unity, 'African Renaissance' drew heavily from philosophical ideas of pan-Africanism, negritude, ubuntu and black consciousness as the basis of African unity, dignity and pride.
As South African business and experts forcefully moved into the continent, the "South African miracle" also attracted African migrants into the country.
As of May 2008, South Africa was home to five million immigrants, an estimated three million of these from Zimbabwe.
The main charge against African migrants in South Africa such as Zimbabweans is that they "are stealing our jobs and our homes and causing all the crime."
However, the group of African migrants in South Africa is neither seamless nor blood-suckers and criminals as their attackers would suggest.
They include refugees and asylum-seekers, whose rights are protected by regional and international refugee treaties such as the 1951 Geneva Convention and the 1969 African Union Convention on Refugees, which South Africa has ratified.
Migrants to South Africa were more than refugees. "Not all immigrants are asylum seekers," says Moki Makura, a Nigerian businesswoman previously based in London and now stationed in Johannesburg.
South Africa has been an excellent base to highly qualified professionals overseas, keen to return and contribute to the continent's development.
The presence of pan-African institutions, including the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the African Peer Review (APRM) Secretariat has made its Gauteng province, hard hit by xenophobic terror, even more strategic.
This category of highly educated and skilled immigrants today anchors South Africa's economy.
African experts and investors also create jobs for the locals in the areas of policy research, finance, information technology and other business sectors.
"I employ 12 South Africans and that is only my contribution alone. There are many other foreign business people and graduates who came here to offer rare skills and seek investment opportunities because the climate is good," says a Zambian investor.
"The problem is not about South Africans losing jobs and economic opportunities (to other Africans), it is about sheer hatred of immigrants," Emmanuel Nyakarashi of the Johannesburg-based Refugee Ministries Centre said in a TV interview.
The Somali Association of South Africa (SASA) has recorded 471 fatalities in 11 years.
One reason cited for hate attacks on Africans is that they are responsible for spiralling crime and insecurity. Official statistics do not seem to support this claim.
The Department of Correctional Services has a total of 110,000 convicted prisoners and detainees awaiting trial on its books.
Of these, just over 4 per cent are foreigners, many on immigration charges.
Yet, the government's failure to act decisively has simply emboldened perpetrators of xenophobia, leading to the current mayhem.
Dr Kagwanja is the President of the African Policy Institute (Nairobi/Pretoria), and a director at the Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria.