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South African activists condemn attacks on migrant workers

This article is over 16 years, 2 months old
There have been a series of brutal attacks on migrant workers in South Africa, and particularly the Alexandra and Diepsloot townships of Johannesburg this week. At least three people are reported to have died. Unemployed workers have carried
Issue 2101

‘It is a tragedy that such attacks are happening in poor working class communities, where the poor are fighting the poor. But there is a clear reason for this. Many in our communities are made to believe that unemployment is caused by foreigners who take jobs in the country – this is simply untrue.

Forty percent of all South African citizens are unemployed and this has been the case for many years. This is not the result of immigrants from other countries coming to South Africa but rather, the result of the anti-poor, profit-seeking policies of the government and the behaviour of the capitalist class. Such massive and sustained unemployment is a structural problem of a capitalist system that cares little about the poor, wherever they are from or live.

In turn, this has contributed to a situation wherein poor immigrants (most especially those from other African countries) have become increasingly seen (and treated) as criminals and “undesirables” by government authorities. This, combined with the government’s failure of service delivery in those poor communities where most immigrants live, has placed poor immigrants and poor South Africans in constructed “competition” with each other. It is out of this situation that the scourge of xenophobia has arisen.

Blaming foreigners and launching violent attacks on those living in South Africa will benefit no one except those who feed off the desperation and poverty of the poor.

Let us not forget that it is South African corporate capital – through the framework of NEPAD [The African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development economic development programme] – that has, over the last decade, moved into other African countries, most often causing many local, smaller businesses to close down and thus contributing to a situation in which many poor people have lost their jobs.

Likewise, the South African government’s approach to the crisis in Zimbabwe has further contributed to the mass migration of Zimbabweans to South Africa. The poor, wherever they are, are being exploited and oppressed by the same capitalist class.

As the Anti-Privatization Forum (APF) and the Alexandra Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee (AVCC), we call on all those responsible for the recent xenophobic attacks to immediately stop engaging in such senseless and reactionary acts – you are maiming and killing your own brothers and sisters. Anger and resentment at the levels of poverty and joblessness (in South Africa and elsewhere) must be directed at those who are responsible, not the victims.

It is the capitalist class and the ANC government that have joined together to implement neo-liberal policies over the past 14 years that have devastated poor communities and that have now created the conditions where the poor attack the poor. In Alexandra for example, the housing crisis must be blamed on our corrupt and profit-hungry housing officials and those who illegally lease the houses for their own personal gain.

The APF and the AVCC will continue to denounce and actively campaign against these violent xenophobic attacks in our community. We demand that the police apprehend those responsible for encouraging and engaging in these attacks. In the next few days, we will distribute pamphlets and engage the larger Alexandra community in organised mass meetings.’

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