[DEBATE] : (Fwd) More xenopolitics
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue May 27 19:22:09 BST 2008
27 May 2008
Icy wake-up call from poor for new ANC leaders
THE frosty reception given to African National Congress (ANC) leaders
who visited townships and informal settlements at the weekend reminded
me of comments made to me by a friend during a discussion on how the
legacy of President Thabo Mbeki now lies in tatters.
“If I were JZ I would tell the movement thank you but no thank you when
it comes to the presidency of SA. I mean, who would want to take over
the mess that has been created by Mbeki and his crowd?”
O f course Jacob Zuma is going to do no such thing, and is leading the
ANC’s election campaign for next year. However, he must realise that he
will have his hands full when he steps into Mbeki’s role next year. The
latest violence in poor communities, this time directed at foreigners,
is but another reflection of how the government has failed to address
its citizens’ most basic needs.
While there can be no excuses for looting, burning and killing , it is
clear that the allocation of basic resources such as housing,
electricity and water are riddled with corruption and patronage
involving local councillors and other state functionaries. Unless there
is radical change in the sphere of local government, poor townships will
continue to be places of violent conflict even if there are no
With elections less than a year away, the ruling party needs to take
note that communities will continue to revolt against the tardy
provision of services and the gross mismanagement of municipalities.
Moreover, the consequences of these uprisings have the potential to
unravel the social cohesion of our society. The poor, for so long the
ANC’s voting fodder, will no longer tolerate excuses and empty promises
made by politicians every time they come to plead for votes.
Should the ANC’s new leadership ignore the social crises in our
townships, in much the same way as the Mbeki government has done, it
will cost not only the ANC but also the country dearly.
As I have said before, the ANC’s problem is not power — the party will
no doubt be returned through the ballot when South Africans vote next
year. But the true test is the ANC’s continued credibility and
legitimacy among the majority. Given SA’s huge developmental challenges,
buy-in from communities is not a luxury, it is essential for long-term
stability and development.
Party leaders no doubt received a huge wake-up call at the weekend when
residents in Gauteng’s townships and informal settlements made it clear
that the days of giving the ruling party a blank cheque at the polls are
well and truly coming to an end. If you ask me, this couldn’t have come
“If you are a stumbling block, we are going to kick you away,” was how
ANC presidential candidate Zuma was told off at a meeting near Springs
when he tried to explain to poor communities that they had to be patient
with the government.
The social distance between the people and the ANC — which professes to
be a mass organisation — is growing by the day and continues to eat into
what remains of the credibility the party enjoys among the majority.
The lacklustre response from communities to pleas for tolerance of
foreign Africans by ANC leaders on the basis that other African
countries made sacrifices for our freedom is instructive. It shows that
the ANC’s reliance on its history alone is slowly lo sing its pulling
power among younger people, many of whom are victims of state failure on
jobs and education.
Interestingly, this same category has been instrumental in the vicious
violence that has left 50 people dead and thousands displaced.
Youngsters, some only 16, have been fingered as the culprits behind the
deadly attacks. These are the so-called “born frees” who are supposed to
be the ones benefiting from the government’s programmes, but are clearly
Increasingly, the ANC is having to learn that unless it delivers in
concrete terms to the people who vote for it, the party will lo se much,
if not all, of its standing among those to whom it owes its power.
# Brown is political editor.
27 May 2008
Government rapped for lack of action
The absence of both national and provincial plans for the dealing with
the 20000 refugees in the Cape was yesterday slammed as “an utter
disgrace” as civil society organisations and the Cape Town city council
struggled to cope. Picture: Reuters.
CAPE TOWN — The absence of both national and provincial plans for the
dealing with the 20000 refugees in the Cape was yesterday slammed as “an
utter disgrace” as civil society organisations and the Cape Town city
council struggled to cope.
Zackie Achmat of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was speaking at a
news conference of the Western Cape Civil Society Coalition which was
established within hours of the first Western Cape attack on Thursday
night to help immigrants driven from their homes.
TAC, the Aids Law Project (ALP), the Black Sash, the Human Rights
Commission and trade unions joined forces to deal with the crisis and
have been operating 24 hours a day since the first outbreak in the province.
Nathan Geffen of the ALP said the “non-response” from the provincial and
national governments was “ the utmost disappointment”.
He said the coalition had been working with the city but the two more
senior government levels were absent .
“President Thabo Mbeki and Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool have a
lot to answer for. This is a job for the state and they have done
nothing. It is disgraceful,” Geffen said.
Achmat called on Cape Town mayor Helen Zille and Rasool to formulate a
co-ordinated response to the crisis. He also criticised Mbeki, saying
the nation did not need speeches on television but needed a national
plan to cope with what was a disaster.
This comes at a time of increasing tension between the refugees and
reports of illness and disease in the areas where the refugees are being
housed. In one site in Nyanga where 400 people have taken refuge, 58
people were reported seriously ill and one critical. But in spite of
calls for help, neither health professionals nor ambulance services had
One of the major concerns was for people with chronic conditions,
particularly HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, who, because of their
displacement, were unable to receive antiretroviral medication or
anti-TB drugs . Achmat said there was a serious problem with TB because
displaced people often shared cramped spaces.
He called for the military to be deployed to bring calm to the situation
so that the police could get on with their work.
Nkosikhulule Nyembezi of the Black Sash said it was important for those
refugees who wanted to reintegrate to be allowed to do so as soon as
possible. He said the longer they were away from their homes the higher
the chances were of them being illegally occupied, further complicating
He welcomed the actions of Masiphumelele community which had publicly
apologised to the foreigners and had gone house to house with police to
identify looted property. He said keeping people in camps from which
they were prevented from leaving worked against reintegration.
Elroy Palus, also of the Black Sash, said a camp at Soetwater was “a
disaster waiting to happen” in the face of rising frustration among
refugees who were clustering together in their national groups.
Geffen thanked the hundreds of people who had volunteered to help and
had worked together across religious and other boundaries to make a
27 May 2008
Special courts likely for xenophobic crimes
THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the justice department met
yesterday to investigate ways to prosecute 1384 people arrested in the
wake of xenophobic violence over the past two weeks.
NPA spokesman Tlali Tlali said the objective was to have dedicated
resources set aside to have special courts and court officials to enable
“As institutions of state, we have to say that we cannot allow this
criminality to simply go unpunished in the country.” Tlali said they
wanted to send a “stern message” to the country that the state’s “arms
would not be folded” in the wake of the crimes.
The government has been criticised by various stakeholders for its
ineffectiveness in dealing with the xenophobic attacks and failing to
Tlali said the meeting was attended by the justice department and bodies
falling under it, which included the NPA and the Legal Aid Board.
He said it was “difficult to comment on the specifics” because the
meeting was continuing last night, but the main issue was to discuss
effective methods to “speedily attend” to cases that came before the
courts in relation to the xenophobic violence.
The meeting sought to adopt a principled approach to prosecutions that
would be used in all such cases, in Gauteng and elsewhere .
Police Dir Govinder Mariemuthoo said some of the suspects had appeared
in court within 48 hours of their arrest, as required by the Criminal
However, their cases were postponed and they had not yet pleaded to the
charges against them.
Tlali said it had not been decided whether the suspects would be
prosecuted collectively or individually.
Potential charges included murder, arson, assault with intent to do
grievous bodily harm and public violence.
Tlali said the evidence the state came up with would determine what
charges would be laid against suspects.
But, he said, “murder is murder, arson is arson.”
Tlali said the state would be able to rely on the doctrine of common
purpose, which allows for the prosecution of people acting in concert,
as in the mob actions that have occurred over the past weeks.
In terms of the doctrine, the actions of one or more members of a group
(the actual perpetrators) may be attributed to others by virtue of their
association in a common goal.
The doctrine was the basis on which the Sharpeville Six and the Upington
25 were convicted during the height of apartheid.
The doctrine was upheld by the Constitutional Court in 2003 .
27 May 2008
State concessions may ease illegals’ movement
THE government is considering granting concessions to migrants from
neighbouring countries, making it easier for them to move in and out of SA.
A special dispensation, which is still being investigated, would allow
for easier movement of residents from the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) countries, thus reducing the need for people who don’t
get visas to either obtain papers or enter the country illegally.
Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said at a briefing of the
government’s task team investigating the recent xenophobic violence,
that the matter was still under discussion.
“What that dispensation would be, will really be dependent on the
outcome of the discussions,” she said.
In the wake of the violence, SA’s immigration policy has been
criticised, with many calling for the government to recognise illegal
immigrants and grant them some form of legal status.
The nonrecognition of asylum seekers has been seen as a contribut ing
factor to the recent attacks on foreigners, with locals perceiving them
to be legitimate targets.
A report in February by the Paris-based International Federation for
Human Rights criticised the government’s migration policy for ignoring
the fact that many of those entering SA were traders and seasonal
workers who did not wish to settle in the country permanently.
While different options on how to deal with illegal immigrants are being
examined, Mapisa-Nqakula said at present there was no review of
government rules on undocumented migrants.
On the issue of her department suspending deportations of foreign
nationals since the outbreak of the violence, she said: “It is not the
first time we have suspended the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
We feel as government that we cannot take advantage of people who have
Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said that though SADC members had
committed to easing the movements of their citizens and goods, that did
not mean that people could move without documentation — “because then
you can’t secure citizens”.
Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said that the violence had
“I do believe that the situation is under control,” he said, flanked by
several other government ministers and premiers who are also members of
the task team appointed by President Thabo Mbeki.
But Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils said there were fewer incidents
of violence but that did not mean a complete cessation. “It does not
mean that there won’t be some spontaneous outbreak somewhere.”
Nqakula blamed the crisis on “opportunistic” attacks arising from the
fact that “our people were unhappy with certain elements relating to
service delivery, believing that the foreign nationals had actually
taken jobs and housing … and were enjoying the fruits of our grants
system”. (With Sapa)
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