THOSE spreading thuggery, hatred and acts of violence against brothers and sisters must be exposed and arrested for their criminal behaviour, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has demanded.
Xenophobic attacks have resurfaced in South Africa, with several foreigners so far falling victim.
There hasn’t been any condemnation from President Jacob Zuma or other senior government officials.
In a press statement to condemn xenophobic attacks in South Africa, NUMSA general secretary Irvin Jim stated that the union could not ignore the fact that xenophobia keeps happening in South Africa.
“The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) condemns in the strongest terms any acts of violence against our brothers and sisters from the continent. Those who spread thuggery, hatred and violence against our brothers and sisters must be exposed and arrested for their criminal behaviour.
However as NUMSA we can’t ignore the fact that these violent flare-ups keep happening. The reality is that the far majority of our people who are the poorest of the poor are struggling and their suffering has been made worse by the tough economic climate,” Jim stated.
He stated that in South Africa, the people’s suffering was a direct result of 23 years of failed economic policies which the governing party, the ANC, insisted on implementing with the full support of the Democratic Alliance.
Jim stated that instead of taking out their rage on the government, some of the people resorted to hurting the most vulnerable people in communities such as women, children and immigrants.
“The DA and the ANC are to blame for the anarchy. We also can’t ignore the fact that the violence we have seen is a direct consequence of the utterances made by the DA mayor of Jo[hannes]burg, Herman Mashaba. Mashaba fanned the flames of xenophobia in December when he claimed that illegal immigrants were ‘criminals’ and vowed to get rid of them. Therefore the mayor of Joburg and the DA must take full responsibility for the anarchy that has ensued,” he stated.
Jim stated that Mashaba was the South African version of Donald Trump and promoted xenophobia, racism, and anti-poor policies and stereotypes.
“Under global capitalism, where one percent of the population control 99 percent of the economy, wealth is achieved against the backdrop of primitive methods of accumulation, such as the super-exploitation of black and African labour. As a result in South Africa, this one per cent which Mashaba is rented to represent is swimming in wealth and dying of over-eating, whilst the African majority is languishing under extreme levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality,” he stated. “Under these conditions, the weak and the vulnerable, who are our brothers and sisters, become easy victims.”
Jim stated that some in communities acted under the false illusion that if they got rid of foreigners, there would be a better life for them.
He stated that the truth of the matter was that capitalism, which the DA and the ANC government defended and championed, was responsible for all the social ills and creates a deeply repressive and unequal society.
“It’s time we understood that capitalism has run out of ideas and solutions for problems that confront humanity. Those who are unleashing violence against our brothers and sisters need to appreciate a few things that the real struggle we must engage in is a struggle to uproot the continuation of colonisation of a special type in South Africa and the continent,” Jim stated.
He stated that the political bankruptcy of right-wingers like the ANC and DA was that they refused to accept that capitalism had no solutions for problems that confronted humanity.
“South Africa was liberated through the solidarity we received from our comrades outside of the country. For instance, the Cubans in the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola in 1987 fought against Apartheid forces. The Cubans suffered heavy losses for being in solidarity with our struggle. We also owe a great debt of gratitude to countries on the continent for their contribution. Countries like Zambia where members of the liberation movement were hosted as if they were citizens of that country. In Mozambique, not only did we experience their generous hospitality, but they sacrificed their best and brightest leader, Samora Machel, who was killed by the apartheid government for supporting the armed resistance,” Jim stated.
He stated that it was through the global anti-apartheid movement that apartheid was declared a crime against humanity and the hateful system was finally defeated.
“We must therefore ask the question: if the world had adopted the same xenophobic prejudice against South Africans who had to flee their country of birth, where would we be today? In modern day South Africa, the ongoing global crisis of capitalism has worsened the colonial conditions of the African working class. Capital in this country is exploiting the situation, by using the old ‘divide and conquer’ tactic,” Jim stated.
He stated that capital was attempting to divide the working class by hiring workers who were not South African, and paying them the lowest possible wages, or no wages at all.
Jim stated this was done to create the ‘false’ impression that South African workers were lazy and un-hireable.
He stated that this inevitably led to the kind of conflict that was being seen on the streets of Attridgeville, Rosettenville and elsewhere in the country.
“This strategy is designed to pit worker against worker, and undermine all the strides we have made in the protection of workers’ rights. As NUMSA, we say the solution is to recruit every worker, documented or undocumented into our unions. Only this will prevent the bosses from super exploiting vulnerable workers from outside South Africa and undermining our hard won gains,” Jim stated.
He stated that all workers and the community at large must channel their fury to the ANC government and the DA.
Jim stated that workers must unite under the banner of the United Front and to help build a workers party which would fight for real economic change.
“A workers party will organise in the interests of workers and their families. A workers party can fight for the implementation of nationalisation in its entirety, in our lifetime. We want to be able to improve the quality of life of all our citizens, not just the wealthy one per cent,” Jim stated.
He stated that the working class must fight to create a society where the poorest worker could access the same quality education and healthcare as the chief executive officer of a conglomerate.
“We defeated apartheid because we wanted a better life for all. Workers gave up their lives fighting for an end to this hateful system. We cannot claim to be free in South Africa when the majority of people languish in poverty and they have no hope of escaping it. We have no choice. If we want to save this country from burning to ashes, we must urgently implement the Freedom Charter! Organise, or starve,” stated Jim.