22 May, 2008

"There's no crisis in South Africa" this I thought Zizi would say!

MOTHERLY LOVE . . . Zimbabwean Beauty Mpofu playing with her baby in Bokfontein. In the midst of the brutal and senseless mob attacks meted out against foreign nationals in Alexandra and Reiger Park residents of Bokfontein were last week celebrating the presence of foreigners in their township. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya (Taken from online City Press dated 17/05/2008)

As violent xenophobic clashes that have claimed at least 42 lives spread from Gauteng to Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the "involvement" of the military. It is claimed that the attack that took place in Kwa-Zulu Natal was not based on xenophobia but on politics and I really fail to distinguish between xenophobia and politics especially when the victim is not a South African. SA Catholic Bishops’Conference president Buti Tlhagale described the xenophobic attacks as “new apartheid mentality”.

Looking briefly in the history of South Africa, not so long ago we had our own refugees in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola to name but few. These people went to exile in order to ensure better future for South Africans. What is interesting is the way they were accepted in those countries, they were fed, given a place to stay, were educated and impowered. This was all done legally with great care and control.

Comparing this period to the crisis we facing in South Africa today I really see something different. Firstly, I want to say that I have been keeping the future of SA closer under my eyes and noted that South Africans are not happy with other people who are not South Africans,people such as Nigerians, Somalians, Chines and Parkistans. This is not something new in SA but started long time ago, we have seen them being burned in their houses, burning their businesses,killing them-shocking happening that took place in various parts of SA.

Now the issue is with our neighbours, I know there are many justifications around violating these people, they take our jobs-some will claim! they take our girlfriends, we do not have a place to stay because of these people, but is brutal killing really a solution? Well! I would like to put blame on the government for this crisis!It is esteemated to about 3 million refugees who are in South Africa today and the number is expected to increase. Only few - if any - of there people are legally allowed to be here, note that I do not mean that they must not be allowed but pointing that the government failed to properly control this immigration. In fact there's no crisis in South Africa!

Since I have been watching my this country closely I am really not amazed of what is happening and I really do not believe that military will do the job of managing refugees properly unless there will be a river of blood across South African streets. South Africa it-self is not well developed, it is very poor, amazingly the government says that refugees has to be given a space to live. where exactly? people lives in only three room RDP houses with family of more than 10 people while those living in suburbs finish moths without visiting other rooms in their houses because they are too many to count-why they do not take these people to their houses? With the little food that South Africans have they have to share with these brothers-what is the govenrment doing about that?

South Africans might be lazy, as some people expressed their views in the post by Thanda, that is one reason, but what about the exploitation of these refugees? I know of a farm owner who chased all those who were living in his farm because of the South African Labour Law based on wages and employed these refugees because he knew that they were not legally allowed to be in SA. After they harvest was done guess what happened? He did not want to pay them and when they were complaining he just called the police and said that those people invaded his farm that morning and they were taken by trucks to the borders where they were left to find their way home. Well this sounds good because the farmer was clever enough to rob people of their rights but how good it is for humanity, for the spirit of ubuntu that SA always boast off?

This reminds me of the Rwandan genicode! Again I do not think that the military would be a solution to this matter, you really can not put out fire by petrol. The Lawyer for Human Rights had this to say in a statement "Such use of the military risks exacerbating the situation and creating a security environment similar to that continuously used prior to 1994. In any event, investigation of crime, public safety and the prosecution of crimes committed against foreigners require members who are trained in those areas. The military is not equipped to bring to book perpetrators of crimes against xenophobia victims,".Defence Ministry spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi said there would be a military presence in the strife-hit areas "as soon as all that needs to be done is complete". My question is: who knows what will take place when where?
It is really bad because if your skin is darker you'll be burned. South Africa is the youngest to get freedom but the laws that it passed shocked the world and things that are happening are just another shock to the world,what else? If Mbeki is fit enough to intervene in Zimbabwe I think it would be much better to first sort out what is happening in South Africa unless "there is no crisis in South Africa". Taking into considerations that in our country there are many other people from various countries not only Zimbabwe and we are all human, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity as human beings as well and any justification around xenophobia is just meaningless. The government need to take formal control as soon as possible before we see another genocide.

Have your say.

Simphiwe Kanityi


Future Journalists Programme said...

Nqobile - FJP

Thoughtful article Sims. Well, I think a lot of issues, which have been brewing for some time now, are tangled into and have resulted in the recent xenophobic attacks. Firstly, I have to say it is painfully sad to witness such brutality happening to our fellow Africans. I can't even comprehend how it feels for their families back home to know that such hatred is being shown towards their children, husbands, wifes and fellow country's-men. The worst though, is the reflection this phenomenon will have on South Africa to the rest of the world. I mean the United Nation and has already expressed its shock on recent attacks.

In my own view, daunting and lack of service delivery from the SA government is the primary issue that got South Africans angry to such an extent. Our natives have for years not been provided with proper housing, sanitation facilities, education and employment equity. The income inequality gap further segragated the non-white communities to struggle in the new democratic governance, the impact of poverty so great among the black peoples such that is stayed at heart; why they had to struggle for a democracy that they would never realise. Foreigners then illegally entered the country in masses, this increase in the population adding an inbalance to an already dissatisfied group of citizens who then witnessed, in the midst of their poverty, the visitors getting business deals, housing and non confrontation of their illegal citizenship.

Then in certain townships, there was alarm of some foreigners, particularly Nigerians, conducting shady business deals, mostly drugs; killing our youth. These are the stories we've heard in our own neighbourhoods, shocking but seemingly non-stopable. Given the violent past of our country, some South Africans still have instilled in them the idea that problems can only be sorted through violence. What combated apartheid? It was retaliation and willful fighting from the black man's part. So, even now in 2008, fourteen years into the democracy, angry South Africans resorted to violence, a tool they know best to make a strong statement about their non-happiness.

The other petty issue which subordinately led to the hatred is that foreigners are "stealing girlfriends", so says South African men. I think this issue in particular arises on the basis of our democracy being so fresh that our people have not yet fully accepted the multicultural, multilingual and religious breed of our country and the world to accept multicultural and interracial relationships. This on its own shows how far behind we are in realising a changed mindset of our people; thus a truly physically, mentally and spiritually liberated South Africa.

Yet on the other hand, i wonder why 'foreigners' in this regard only includes "Black Africans". What about the Chinese, Pakistanese, English etc, who have also resided here. It is the most mind boggling thing why they haven't been brutalised. Not meaning I want this to occur. No. However, it makes me wonder just how South Africans think. Please note, im not igniting yet another racial spark, but merely trying to make sense of things.

It is only too bad that our fellow Africans had to be the victims of this sad circumstance, and at this point i am ashamed to call myself South African because of a mob of people who have thus deemed all of us as xenophobic, because that's what the rest of the world now thinks about us. And I can only pray that government will take responsibility, go back to the basis of this democracy in order to provide a better South Africa for all (all- inclusive of native South Africans and foreigners).

buhle said...

It is rather sad what's happening Sims- beautiful entry by the way.What has happened now is that Nigeria wants compensation for all their citizens that were attacked. Now where's that money going to come from? Taxpayers? What is Mbeki going to do about this? still stay in Japan? I think he will. it's days like these when I don't blame the ANC for wanting to have an earlier election, my word even radio presenters have had enough of Mbeki!

What if we don't pay the money to Nigeria? What then? Is it possible that all African countries are now going to want money to compensate their citizens? Where is all this money going to come from? And can we actually blame Nigeria for wanting money from South Africa? Will this be able to make Mbeki take up notice and actually go to the areas affected by these attacks and actually see for himself how bad it is?

It's a wonder that Essop Pahad and his crew in the Presidency have defended the president.Is he ever wrong? I mean isn't it his capitalist ideas that have destroyed South Africa? Isn't it his fault that we have all these problems? Why is he so haughty and not in touch with the people who actually put him in power?

These are the few questions that i find difficult to get the answers for.

However he is not to blame for the xenophobic attacks, BUT he could do us a favour by actully GOING to the areas of attack. it would do a whole lot of good to the country.

PS: Media Houses like etv; should not just want the ANC leaders to go to Alex and other places, but also Helen Zille, Bantu Holomisa and Patricia de Lille. They've all spoken against the attcaks but they are nowhere to be seen. It is rather very spiteful for etv to say that jacob Zuma hasn't been to see the damage. he is after all a party president, NOT the SA president.

Horrible that all this happened in the weeks leading up to Africa Day.