ZACF Statement on Zimbabwe, Xenophobia and Food Prices
The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) recognises that the crisis in Zimbabwe, ongoing xenophobic attacks and rising food prices are of great importance to the working class, both in South Africa and internationally. Resolving these crises in favour of the poor and working poor will require mass direct action and solidarity.
We stand by the right of Zimbabwean people to be free from violent repression, intimidation, arbitrary arrests, torture and murder by state forces and others allied to the despotic Mugabe regime.
We support the right of all people to be free from hunger, malnutrition and easily preventable sickness caused lack of healthy food.
We support people’s right to freedom of movement under any circumstances, especially when seeking a better future for themselves and their families when the political and economic conditions in their places of origin to do not allow for their wellbeing.
We support the right of people to satisfy their basic needs, such as electricity, housing and other basic services.
In line with this, we support the demands made by Cosatu for actions to be taken to protect the poorest layers of society from the effects of rising food prices, by raising social grants and minimum wages. We support the demand for basic foods to be VAT zero-rated, for land reform to be accelerated, for more land to be made available for food production.
We agree with Cosatu that poor and working class South Africans and immigrants have a common interest in struggling together to improve their living conditions.
Our aim is for this common interest to grow into a common struggle to improve conditions and to resist all forms of oppression.
We call on working class and poor South Africans to build alliances and structures of support with immigrants living in poor communities in South Africa.
We call on all the organisations of the working class to make a sincere effort to involve immigrants in their struggles and, similarly, to support the day to day struggles of these immigrants in all their forms.
Alexandra, a hotbed of working class resistance to oppression for decades, has been racked and divided by xenophobic riots. Some among the South African working class are turning their anger against immigrants instead of the true enemy, the capitalists. This is a tragedy, not only for our immigrant brothers and sisters, but for the South African working class. A working class divided will win nothing but more oppression and exploitation. A working class united will never be defeated.
In Alexandra, the workers and the poor, both South African and immigrant, faces a crisis of housing. A battle between South Africans and immigrants over who gets the houses will only prolong the crisis. To win housing, water and electricity, the class must unite.
Working class organisations in Alexandra and elsewhere are fighting for housing and services. Immigrants and South Africans should join in these struggles. We call on the militant organisations of the South African working class to bring immigrants into their movements, to establish joint committees, to learn together the nature of the common oppression binding all workers, and to build and grow common struggles against this oppression.
In the face of hate-filled, mindless xenophobic attacks, immigrants have sought the protection of the police. We understand and respect this move. When our lives are threatened, we go where we can.
But the police are no friends of immigrants. Again and again they have shown their xenophobia. This is the force of repression that randomly picks people up off the street because their skins are darker than the average in South Africa, checking for ID books and papers as they checked for passes under the old regime. This is the force of repression that intimidates workers into passing over their hard-earned wages in bribes if they cannot prove they have the right to be in this country. This is the force of repression that throws workers into the squalor of the Lindela concentration camp for months of imprisonment until they are deported to their countries of origin, to poverty, to starvation, and in some of these countries – including Zimbabwe – to repression, torture and murder.
The police may show mercy today. But immigrants who seek police protection today may be arrested tomorrow – or next week, or in two months – by the very same police who offered to protect them today.
Today they may have no option. Xenophobic terror is terrible indeed. When Zimbabwean immigrants go so far as to ask to be repatriated to the country they fled, a country now plunging deeper than ever into economic ruin and tyrannical repression, they show the true terror of xenophobia – terror that, in the end, hits all the workers and all the poor.
In the face of such terror, we should do better than relying on our enemies. The robber capitalists and their armed wing, the state and its police, are our enemies. The friends of the workers are the workers. The friends of the immigrant workers should be the South African workers. We call on all workers and poor people to unite in daily struggle. And, while xenophobic attacks may continue, we hope the time will come when South African and immigrant workers will join in defence against these attacks.
The dockworkers of Durban, members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, members of Cosatu, have shown the way. Just last month, the Mugabe regime sought to import a shipment of weapons from China to slaughter those who resisted tyranny. This shipload was to be unloaded in Durban, and carried by truck through South Africa to the butcher of Harare.
The dockworkers of Durban declared that they would not unload this shipment. They were joined by transport workers throughout the world. The weapons were returned to China.
More weapons may follow. All workers in South Africa, whether South African, Zimbabwean, whatever may be their nationality, should be prepared to stop these weapons, to defend the workers and the poor of Zimbabwe against the tyrant.
Workers and poor people can unite in the struggle for housing, for water, for electricity, against repression, against dictators.
And workers and poor people can unite in the struggle for food.
The insane increase in food prices is a global crisis, and is meeting with global resistance. Throughout the world, workers, peasants and the poor face starvation as World Bank structural adjustment programmes, trade agreements prepared by and for the capitalists, oil profiteering, biofuel programmes that seek to evade the energy crisis by burning food, and price fixing so plainly criminal that even the South African state has felt obliged to fine food company Tiger Brands nearly R100 million (a mere 4.5 percent of these robbers’ 2007 profit of R2.24 billion, bringing no relief in the price of bread), are united in a single onslaught of plunder and starvation.
But the people are fighting back. Workers and the poor have rioted from Egypt to Mozambique, from Haiti to the Philippines. In Haiti and in Cameroon, these actions have forced the state to cap food prices.
The ZACF supports Cosatu’s demands to defend workers and the poor against food inflation. And we go further. We declare that by taking to the streets, the working class can win a price cap on all basic food.
In struggle the workers can unite. In struggle the workers of the world can defeat the capitalist plunderers who would starve us all to death if they could make a profit from it. In struggle the workers can reach beyond small differences of nationality, can topple the tyrant Mugabe as we toppled the tyrants of the apartheid regime, can build a world where neither boundary fence, nor plundering mielie merchant, nor policeman of hatred, will deprive us of our needs and hold us in terror.
The ZACF calls on Cosatu, on the community social movements, on all the organisations of the working class, across all borders, to join in direct action against every oppressor.