by Siyabulela Hulu-Hulu (TAAC, ZACF)
Published in “Tokologo: Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective”, numbers 5/6, November 2015
Attacks on African and Asian foreigners flared up in South Africa twice in 2015, first in April, mainly in KwaZulu, then in October in Grahamstown, the Eastern Cape. Many attacks were on small (spaza) shops run by foreigners. Maybe 500 were displaced in October.
The looting and smashing of property in spaza shops, and the immensity of these criminal activities country wide, has had an incredible and negative impact on our democracy, on our lives, on our livelihoods, and reflects badly on the nation’s morality.
Foreign nationals have been living in South Africa for many decades, going back to migrant workers on the mines in the 1880s. Over the last 20 years, some came to South Africa for trading purposes, others for job opportunities, and the process was regulated by the government.
The police handle the large- scale immigration very brutally. As in the past, the police have never proved lawful or law-abiding. They are the coercive arm of the state. When they deal with black foreigners, they use violence or demand bribes.
Some immigrants, of course, are here “illegally”, but that is not a matter for individuals to act on. And we must remember these are people, like us, with the same problems. The scarcity of jobs in South Africa doesn’t permit people to loot or vandalise private property.
I’m wondering: Where does this hatred come from? During the apartheid regime, no-one called anyone a “foreigner” if they were from African countries. People from other countries, like James Motlatsi in the black miners’ union, were part of the struggle.
These are our fellows and brothers: we should acknowledge their pain in these times of turmoil.
The claims that foreigners are criminals must be challenged. The conspiracy theory that these people are here just to smuggle drugs causes a conflicts and suspicions, and is used by people who act violently against foreign nationals. It was the claim that foreigners were involved in murders and mutilations that led directly to the riots in Grahamstown.
The seeds of hate grow in the soil of suffering. Many of our youth have given up hope, seeing how “black economic empowerment” has become captured by the corrupt and elite “tenderprenuer” process that has grown across society. They end up working as contract labour, for a certain time, or working as cheap labour for low-wage. This in return makes the youth angry and destructive. And rather than see where the problems come from – the unfair society we live in – many get drawn into looting and vandalism.
We need to have to a mass mobilisation programme that will foster change and contribute to well-being. Thus we as anarchists believe in mutual-aid (umonthu umontho nga bunto). We must not believe the propaganda of the state, and understand how system is designed.
We must challenge the negativity and despair in the individuals’ ways of thinking that the unfair capitalist society is creating. As a human-being you should be proud of your achievements, look forward to your future and join the working class struggle for freedom, which is a struggle that crosses all borders. The fruit of toil and struggle is yourreward. Do not redden your hands with the blood of innocents.
Fight the system. Peace among the masses, struggle against the ruling classes.