Monday, April 27, 2015

Xenophobic Campaigners Unskilled People
April 25, 2015 Opinion & Analysis
Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu

THE violent xenophobic attacks in South Africa had subsided at the time of writing.
The bloody campaign had spread from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal to Johannesburg by the end of last week when four thugs literally butchered a helpless Mozambican, Emmanuel Sithole, in Alexandra Township.

We should thank the Lord that the culprits were arrested about four hours after the dastardly deed. It is certainly every decent person’s prayer and hope that their trial will be before a court that will be openly biased towards justice and not towards leniency as was the case with the famous, or should we say notorious, Oscar Pistorious’ verdict.

A great deal of emotional debate has been generated by the xenophobic armed wave which followed a public speech by the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, in which he disparagingly described foreign black people as lice, and that they must return to their respective countries.

The xenophobic campaigners accused black foreigners of taking jobs and business opportunities that could have gone to indigenous black South Africans. In 2008, a similar xenophobic campaign resulted in several scores of black foreigners getting killed in that land, which is Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour. Many were maimed by the xenophobes.

Many Zimbabweans say that the African National Congress (ANC) government in particular and black South Africans in general are not thankful to Zimbabwe for the support they gave the ANC during the difficult days of the liberation struggle.

The ANC is Africa’s oldest liberation movement, having been founded in January 1912. During its protracted liberation struggle, it was supported by virtually every African country. The only exception was Malawi whose founding president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, chose to cooperate with the South African Boer regime to the extent of establishing diplomatic ties with Pretoria.

The ANC opened representative’s offices in Algeria, Cairo, Libya, Rome, Lusaka, Angola, Mozambique, London, Tanzania, the German Democratic Republic, Cuba, Ghana, Zimbabwe, India and a few other countries whose governments openly opposed that country’s universally condemned apartheid regime.

The basic understanding between the ANC and those friendly states was that they would continue their friendly relations with a free South Africa under the ANC. That was the case with other liberation organisations.

It is not correct to say or imply that any liberation movement undertook to have a migration policy that would allow nationals of friendly or supportive states to flood their countries’ jobs markets.

I stand to be corrected on the sensitive issue that I believe that African solidarity was based on the belief that the security of independent African states could not be guaranteed as long as there was an African country still under colonial or white minority settler rule.

Zimbabwe’s, Mozambique’s or Angola’s political security and national sovereignty could not be guaranteed for as long as South Africa was ruled by a racist settler minority.

Our support for the South African liberation struggle was not merely motivated by our African brotherly wish to see South Africans enjoy freedom and democracy, but it was motivated also by our wish to secure our borders so that we could have a friendly and free neighbour.

Talking about borders brings us to the number of independent African states: Angola, Algeria, Benin, Chad, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Senegal, Seychelles, Tanzania, Togo, Sudan, South Sudan, Mauritania, Zambia, Zimbabwe plus a couple of little Atlantic Ocean islands and Djibouti.

The boundaries of these nations were not drawn by us (Africans) but by European colonial powers after their 1884-85 Berlin conference which authorised them to carve up the African continent among themselves. Only two countries, Liberia and Ethiopia remained uncolonised.

Africa later adopted the same boundaries except for the recently created state of South Sudan and the separation of Rwanda and Burundi.

The Organisation of African Unity’s Charter upheld these colonial boundaries, a decision that did not only strengthen the colonialists’ divide and rule strategy, but gave much respect to the tragic political philosophy of micro-nationalism.

It is that very same mentality that has made black African brothers to become aliens to one another simply because of the colonial boundaries that created more than 50 micro-states throughout the African continent.

The Shona people of Mozambique today regard the Shona people in Zimbabwe as foreigners and vice versa. The Kalanga people in Botswana now seldom acknowledge their blood relationship with those in Zimbabwe. The Vendas in South Africa call those in Zimbabwe and Mozambique aliens, no; they derogatorily call them “Makirimana”

Meanwhile, the Zulus in South Africa call the Ndebele speaking black people of Zimbabwe “izilwanyana zikaMzilikazi” (Mzilikazi’s insects), hence a King Zwelithini’s description of black alien Africans in South Africa “lice”.

In South Africa itself, the Zulu king, Tshaka, tried to create a macro-state through military conquest but was cut short by his brothers’ assegais in 1828. The brothers were sooner than later defeated by white settlers who wielded much better military weapons than the Zulu assegais and ox hide shields. The Boers later created a tiny Zululand and reduced the authority of the territory’s tribal leaders, predecessors of King Zwelithini.

King Zwelithini is a socio-political product of that micro-state colonial mentality, and cultural descendant of the militarily aggressive Tshaka, Dingane, Mpande, Cetshwayo royal Zulu lineage.

As a king, he is by duty protective of his mini- kingdom which is ironically an integral part of South Africa whose ANC government is (or professes to be) Pan-Africanist, hence its relatively liberal immigration policy.

The most unfortunate mistake the xenophobic campaigners make is to vent their frustration and anger on helplessly defenceless foreign black people some of whom are in South Africa quite lawfully.

The correct measure for them to take should be to form a political party with a migration policy that is opposed to that of the ANC government. If the feelings of the black majority are that alien blacks should be deported from South Africa, such a political party could replace the ANC government through the ballot.

For its part, the ANC government would be well advised to work through Sadc to promote regional economic integration as a part of its foreign policy objectives. Regional employment opportunities or generation could be a part of that regional economic integration programme. It can take the experience of Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) as a guide.

It is important for the ANC to appreciate that South Africa, being the Southern African region’s most economically developed country, and being the richest in terms of per capita income, cannot afford to have either poor or politically unstable neighbours.

The old saying that “a rich man’s house is only secure as long as he ensures that there is food on his poor neighbour’s tables” applies just as well to states. If the rich man is stingy, his poor neighbours will steal most of, if not all, his riches because necessity knows no law.

Zimbabweans, for their part, had better learn one basic truth about chiefs or kings, governments or municipal councils. It is that their basic responsibility is to promote and protect the interests of their subjects or nationals or ratepayers, not those of foreigners.

That is as true as parents who protect and promote their children’s interests and welfare and not those of their neighbour’s children. We should not expect black South African police or army to shoot South African xenophobic campaigners to protect Zimbabweans, Ethiopians, Congolese, Somalis, Mozambicans or any other foreigner because blood is thicker than water.

Is it possible for a South African police constable or army corporal Zwelakhe Mthembu to shoot his unemployed son who is assaulting a Zimbabwean, Nyikayaramba Mudzengerere, who is employed as a labourer by a local Indian or Chinese-owned shop?  No.

We should face our responsibility to put our socio- economic house in order rather than go begging for refuge and maintenance abroad to the inconvenience of our neighbours. They have their own socio-economic problems.

We should also understand that black people that flood South Africa are, by and large, job-seekers whereas many white people are investors, and have more to offer than we black people in that it is from among them that commerce and industry get technicians, middle and high level managerial personnel than from the black community.

Many kombi touts (owindi) express this socio-economic reality by referring to their clients as makhiwa (varungu) an implied reference to sources of money and employment (white people).

The majority of black Zimbabweans in South Africa are unskilled people in search of menial labour. The majority of South African job-seekers are also unskilled people. These are the majority of xenophobic campaigners, the Zulus. They are a frustrated community segment, and turn on alien black Africans as scapegoats.

If most xenophobic campaigners are from KwaZulu- Natal, that is because the Zulu people are the majority ethnic group in South Africa, hence King Zwelithini’s political- cultural clout.

Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu is a retired, Bulawayo – based journalist. He can be contacted on cell 0734 328 136 or through email.

No comments: