SAFTU is once more forced to release another statement to express its disappointment at the flaring up of attacks directed against the foreign nationals and their properties in some parts of South Africa. SAFTU strongly condemns these attacks and looting of shops as absolutely criminal and reactionary.
SAFTU reiterates that foreign migrants have nothing to do with the overall unemployment rate of 38%. They have nothing to do with the fact that two thirds of South African live in poverty. The inequalities faced by South Africans are not created by poor African and Asian migrants but are manifesting from the capitalist system that divides and exploits the black working class. The SAPS have their hands full as in any case they can’t protect ordinary South Africans from the rampant criminals on a daily basis.
These attacks are a combination of xenophobia, in particular Afrophobia, on one hand but also a response to the untold “African squeeze” the Africans are facing across the continent. This squeeze falls like manna in the hands of the unscrupulous capitalists who waste no time to exploit the vulnerability and desperation of workers from other countries in the continent. It is also a fertile ground to the lumpen (criminal) elements who exploits the frustrations to launch looting sprees that have absolutely nothing to do with xenophobia. These elements pray also on ordinary South Africans and don’t care about their race or regions.
It is this third hand of the employers that is not often exposed when the working class are fighting each other in such attacks. It is a reality that the heartless bosses in particular in the construction, agricultural, retail, hospitality, domestic, cleaning work, trucking business and security sectors have been deliberately stoking xenophobic fires through discriminating the locals and preferring to employ foreign nationals. They are doing this not because they love African foreign workers more but because it is far easy to exploit them and pray on their vulnerability in particular when they are undocumented.
The attacks represent an even bigger problem that we are not speaking about. A question that must be asked to all the political leaders is how come such a rich continent has its workers fleeing in all directions in search of greener pastures? No worker likes to leave his or her family to go get humiliated in other countries unless s/he has been left with no other alternative. Yet there are 160 000 Africans who flee to Europe annually using unsafe boats and other modes resulting in them drowning in the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea. On average six migrants died a single day crossing over the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. This is an indictment to all of the African political elites.
Others flee into other countries within the content. South Africa is seen as the land of milk and honey, but it is indeed the land of milk and honey not for the black majority. In 2017 alone South Africa received a total of 3.1 million migrant workers. Making it the largest recipient of migrants in the continent.
Africa the richest continent in resources and yet the poorest continent in the world. It is the home of failed revolutions from Cape to Cairo. The masses have been betrayed here in South Africa just as they have been betrayed in almost every African country by the political elites most of whom were heroes and heroines of the liberation struggle. These elites have done very little to improve the lives of the citizens post liberation.
The unemployment rate of 47% for its African/Black women and 56,4% for its youth in the richest country in the continent is a testament to this betrayal. So is the two thirds of the South African population are living in poverty and the country has become the most unequal society in the world. The former oppressors have lost nothing post liberation. The land, mines, factories and most of the property still resides within them. 1994 has transferred an apparatus for political repression and class exploitation to the black political elite.
The black population is still the face of deprivation and a quarter of a century down the line they are extremely angry, agitated and disappointed. The country’s youth is facing a drug epidemic and violence including gangsterism which have become a way of life and survival. The levels of criminality are completely out of hand with an average of 57 bodies moved daily to mortuaries, which has now become a booming business. Yet the justice system fails most of the victims of crime with a conviction rate of only 15% and 11% for rape survivors. This drives a culture of impunity. Lawlessness is taking root and we are increasingly spiraling down as a society where only the toughest survives.
In the context of these levels of poverty and unemployment, there exists intense levels of competition for resources between South Africans. Growing and desperate levels of competition for shrinking jobs, on a housing backlog, for collapsing public services is fueling xenophobia and other prejudices threating the social and political cohesion of the working class. Opportunist politicians are seizing on these to scapegoats the poor migrants for the dismal failure of the neoliberal austerity.
South Africans are mistakenly taking out their frustrations on other victims and fugitives of neglect and deprivation from other parts of the African continent.
SAFTU calls on workers and the marginalised poor to unite against the people who have caused the crisis or did nothing to address the crisis inherited from the colonial era. We call on all Africans to redirect their anger against the capitalists that exploits them and the political elites that have not used their political power to change the economic crisis facing all countries in our continent.
Part of the challenge we face today is that the trade union movement as a whole has been weakened and has allowed a gulf between workers who are employed and workers who are unemployed. The civil society formations have ceased to be mass formations that represent the voice of the masses at the street level. The political parties all combined now represent the minority of the people who still have faith in electoral politics.
SAFTU was created to address these weaknesses. SAFTU calls for the convening of the Working Class formations, civic groups and all progressive political formations of the left to discuss the crisis facing the African working class and how this disaster unfolding in the streets could be stopped.
SAFTU continue to campaign for a radical rupture with a neoliberal policies of the past 25 years, for re-industrialisation of the economy, massive public works programme and opening of the doors of learning to end the over 10 million strong unemployment, 2, 3 million housing backlog and idling of 4 million young people not in employment, education and training.
This calls for nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy
under the democratic control and management of the workers to plan the economy
in the interests of many, and not the few capitalists.