STOP SCAPEGOATING IMMIGRANTS: ACTIVISTS TELL SOUTH AFRICAN POLITICIANS
March 06, 2017 | Uhuruspirit
Hundreds of activists gather at the South African Parliament to protest against recent xenophobic attacks in parts of the country. Photo: Uhuruspirit
Cape Town – About 200 activists on Saturday called on South African government officials as well as politicians to stop creating the impression that migrants are to be blamed for the problems in the country.
The activists made this call when they marched to the South Parliament in Cape Town to denounce the recent outbreak of attacks against migrants in parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
“The impression is being created as if immigrants and refugees are responsible for crime. This is untrue. The indiscriminate violence against ‘foreign’ residents in Rosettenville last week and in Pretoria West this last weekend was wrong,” according to a memorandum they addressed to President Jacob Zuma.
“The vast majority of local and immigrant masses are COMPLETELY opposed to drugs and crime. We all want criminals to be removed from our communities too. Xenophobia is not the answer to crime and poverty – unity of the masses is the answer! The real criminals will slip through the net if we are fighting each other instead of uniting. Poverty can never be an excuse to attack our fellow poor,” it added.
Comrade Faeza Meyer of the Housing Assembly reading the coalition's memorandum before handing over to the representative of the presidency
Many speakers at the march singled out the mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba whom they accused of instigating the current xenophobic attacks by making unguarded and careless anti-immigrant comments that are beneath the dignity of a supposedly intelligent leader.
Some of the activists pointed out that some politicians who have failed to deliver the dividends of democracy to the poor communities often resort to misleading the people by placing the blame on the so-called foreigners.
“We strongly call on government and political leaders to refrain from inciting xenophobic violence and tension,” they said.
The activists are members of a new anti-xenophobic coalition that includes organizations like the Housing Assembly, Africa Solidarity Network, Workers International Vanguard Party (WIVP), Workers and Socialist Party (WASP), Frontline Africa, Congolese Civil Society, WCLRefugees, United Family (Unifam), Left Student Forum, Keep Left, ISM, Giwusa, Sonke Gender Justice, Palestine Solidarity Coalition and many immigrant community groups.
Comrade Shaheed Mahomed of the Workers International Vanguard Party (WIVP) addressing the march in front of the parliament
The group also criticized the idea of regarding Africans as ‘foreigners’ within Africa, arguing that the borders in Africa were “artificially drawn by the colonialists and imperialists” to make it easy for them to plunder the continent.
“There is enough wealth in Africa for us to be the most highly developed in the world. Yet there is poverty and starvation everywhere. The imperialists extract the wealth and leave the crumbs for the masses to fight over. The political leaders keep us in chains for the exploitation by the mining monopolies and banks from the rich countries.”
Full List of the Coalition’s Demands
a. Government and tribal leaders and officials should refrain from making xenophobic statements. Any such leaders must be held accountable for such statements.
b. Home Affairs must treat all refugees and immigrants with respect and process applications efficiently; there should be more centres for application, preferably in each province.
c. The police should stop harassing immigrants and refugees and asylum seekers.
d. There must be an end to collusion between the state and the mine and bank bosses who have been involved in the large scale theft, right down to the druglord,
e. The wealth stolen over the years by the big companies, should be returned
f. Increase the tax rate on company profits, back up to 43%
g. Jobs for all at a living wage; share all the work among all who can work
h. Decent and integrated housing for all, close to places of work;
i. Free quality, liberatory education for all. The education curriculum should reflect the true history of Africa, exposing the role of imperialism and colonialism; it should value the contributions, past and present, of Africa to world culture. There should be discussions in every school, workplace and community for African unity and against xenophobia.
j. Free quality health care for all