AZANIA Xenophobia: An outcome of narrow nationalism Black Republic Newspaper
In the June 2018 issue number 10 of the Black Republic editorial, we raised the question “What levels of barbarism are they prepared to go to?”, in reference to the migration of people from war ravaged states in Africa and the Middle East, to Europe. The Mediterranean had at that time, become the graveyard of migrants.
Devastation in other parts of Africa and Middle East, by drought and wars, has also forced these people to migrate to South Africa/Azania. This brings us to the current climate in SA/Azania, in the past few weeks. And the same question arises; “What levels of barbarism are they prepared to go to?”
A situation that did not arise only now, but that has been going on for a number of years.
We vehemently condemn any and all attacks on immigrants that have been taking place in the country. We also understand that extreme poverty makes our poor vulnerable to manipulation by those who lead them.
The impression is created that the last 9 years of the Zuma administration, was responsible for the woes of the South African citizens, and that the new administration under Ramaphosa will “rescue” the country, its economy and its moral compass.
This fallacious impression must be dispelled, as the woes of Azania finds its genesis in the capture of the liberation movements, by capital, in the 80’s with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the subsequent 1994 negotiated settlement.
The historic liberation movements were forced into compromising positions, and were forced to the negotiating table, thereby betraying the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed and exploited people of Azania, as had happened in most African states, such as Namibia and Zimbabwe, where freedom was without land and economic power. These countries were advised to exist peacefully with imperialist, and follow the dictates of the instruments of international capital, the IMF, WTO and World Bank.
Thus came into being this new liberated democratic South Africa, accepting the Economic Structural Adjustment Program of these institutions. The woes of the Azanian people go back to the negotiated settlement of 1994!
The Apartheid debt, which is still being serviced currently, was debt incurred during Apartheid to benefit the white minority, and was used to suppress Black peoples’ resistance to racism. In accepting the dictates of the IMF and World Bank, the ANC led government betrayed their own slogan of “a better life for all”.
Instead the white privilege was maintained, no wealth was expropriated, nor any land expropriated to address the socioeconomic imbalance that is now the most unequal in the world!
Black people became more marginalised and impoverished.
Over the past 25 years, more debt was incurred, to assist in creating, developing and maintaining infrastructure, for the benefit of big business. All the state institutions of housing, healthcare, education, social services, have suffered because of the dictates of the Structural Adjustment Program of the IMF/World Bank, to reduce spend of these services, which affect the poor and the working class.
This has also been the case with some African states that have been ravaged by the debt burden, that does not allow their economies to grow and flourish, extreme poverty and uncertainty are the results thereof, precipitating migration.
Migrants stealing jobs and wealth
According to the ILO global estimates on migrant workers, in 2017, migrant workers accounted for 164 million of the world’s approximately 258 million international migrants. Migrant workers contribute to growth and development in their countries of destination. Migrant workers spend 85% of their income in the country they work in, and only remit 15% to their country of origin. They also contribute to the fiscal, in paying rent and VAT. It is the big corporate companies who, who through off-shore accounts and transfer pricing that pilfer the wealth of Azania and not migrants.
In South Africa/Azania, political parties in the last elections of May 2019, have anti-immigrant policy and sentiments in their manifestos, by call for undocumented immigrants to be repatriated and stricter border controls. They have created the xenophobic tension by telling black people that “foreigners” had taken their jobs, whereas the jobs losses have been an ongoing nightmare for the working class. Just in this year only over 50 000 jobs have been lost in all sectors, and more have been announced, especially in the mining and finance service sector such as the banks who plan to cut over 5000 jobs.
Political party’s role
Political parties should take responsibility for fuelling xenophobic sentiment. Most political parties, especially the Democratic Alliance (DA), have in the last elections posited a very antiimmigrant policy. The DA controls the Western Cape Province and city of Cape Town, where the army has been deployed, in poor and working class area, with the blessings of Ramaphosa under the guise of the drug war. The mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, a DA leader, precipitated the current events, when he sent in the “urban army”, the Metro Police, into the city centre to deal with migrants, allegedly selling counterfeit good. The migrants repelled the police, and the video went viral.
The ensuing violence and “looting” was an outcome of the policies of political parties and the failure of those in authority to act responsibly. They now claim that it has nothing to do with xenophobia and is just criminality.
One cannot dispel the notion that the current events could be an orchestrated crisis to benefit certain interest, both political and business. Mashaba does not rule out the army being called as was in the Western Cape.
In mirroring the United States, Australia and much of Western Europe, South Africa immigration policy is informed by whether foreigners can benefit the economy or not. This separation is rooted in racism and classism.
The classist aspect is that anti-poor and anti-African immigration plans have already been approved by the government led by the ANC in March 2017, by approving the White Paper on International Migration. Skilled and moneyed foreigners are welcomed, poor and unskilled migrants, who are predominantly from the African continent, are undesirable and should be repatriated. Also planned is the establishment of asylum seekers processing centres, to hold migrants, while being processed by the authorities. This forced detention is a gross violation of human rights.
The racist aspect is that White foreigners and migrants don’t experience xenophobia in South Africa/Azania. It is reserved mainly for poor black migrants from the African continent and the Asian sub-continent.
Monopoly capital threatened
The migrant workers are running small enterprises in the heart of the townships and informal settlements. This has affected the taxi industry, in which politicians and business have a vested interest. This informal/small business sector has also hurt the supermarket monopolies, which are losing market share.
We can only conclude that the current climate and events in Azania, must be attributed to the sell out and betrayal by the Azanian Revolution, by those forces who have constituted themselves into a comprador class, and continue to propagate that the system of capitalism, in a more humane form can and will deliver a ”better life for all”. All the while pillaging the state coffers, and advancing the privatisation of the State Owned Enterprises (SOES), as well as enacting anti poor and working class policies and budgets.
Extreme deprivation, in housing, healthcare, and social services, has created poverty and deplorable living conditions. These are the conditions that allow political opportunist to use the masses to do their biddings.
We should be wary of the current calls for reversal of democratic gains, such as the reinstatement of the death penalty, repatriations of migrants, relaxing labour laws, minimum wage etc, and oppose them vehemently.
The Black working class needs to seize power, and establish its dictatorship to ensure a better life for the Black Working Class and the poor and only a revolutionary leadership that can unite workers and peoples of Azania, of the continent and the world, will deliver true liberation, through a World Workers Party.
“Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains”
“Its either Socialism or Barbarism!”