South Africa. Statement by Abahlali baseMjondolo against xenophobia.
Submitted to Enough 14.
Since our movement was first formed fifteen years ago we have opposed all forms of repression. We have opposed capitalism, and its enclosure and commodification of land. We have opposed political gangsterism in party politics and the government which turns the state into a killing machine used by politicians to get rich. We have also taken an internationalist perspective and organised in solidarity with comrades in countries like Palestine, Haiti, Turkey and elsewhere.
We have also opposed forms of repression that occur within oppressed communities such as violence against women and xenophobia. We understand who our oppressors are. We have never been confused by those who want us to fight among ourselves as the poor. We have said that a neighbour is a neighbour and a comrade is a comrade irrespective of the country or province in which they were born.
Powerful people in the government and the twin monsters of the ANC and the DA try to divide the poor by turning us against each other. Many people have been told that they are unable to receive services, houses or jobs from government because of “foreign nationals”. As a result, there is a sometimes a strong hatred for people who are born in other countries that regularly erupts into violence.
The poor have always lived in a state of crisis. That crisis is now getting much worse due to the coronavirus situation, retrenchments and increasingly violent evictions – sometimes including the army. People are already hungry. People have already been killed by the security forces. Thousands of people have already been evicted across the country. Thousands are being retrenched. The government is responding with an austerity budget and more soldiers on the streets so the crisis will get even worse in the coming months.
In this situation some forces are using social media to call for new attacks on people born in other countries. One poster gives a deadline for all “foreigners” to leave South Africa. We have heard reports of attacks on truck drivers who are considered to be “foreigners”.
This is a clear attempt to try and make sure that the poor fight among themselves rather than organising to build their power against the state, the political elite and capital. We live in a society in which the five richest people have more money than millions of impoverished people. We live in a society in which millions of people are without land, work or homes. We lie in a society in which impoverished people who organise themselves to be able to participate in decision making about their own lives and communities face serious repression. This is the problem. A neighbour from Mozambique or Pakistan is not the problem.
The enemy are those who have killed our fathers, uncles, brothers, and husbands in Marikana. The enemy are those that give the orders to evict us every day. The enemy are those that are responding to an economic crisis with austerity. The enemy are those that oppose a living wage. The enemy are those that repress the struggles of the oppressed.
The enemy are those that use the state to get rich instead of allowing it to be used as a tool of the people. The enemy is the corrupt and violent political class in South Africa. The enemy is capitalism. The enemy is imperialism, which organised and supported the coups in countries like Haiti and Bolivia and continues to support the oppression of the Palestinian people.
We were not made poor, or kept poor, by people who have come to South Africa from other African countries, or Asia, to work. We were made poor by colonialism and racial capitalism and kept poor by capitalism and the ANC and its mixture of neoliberal economic policies and political gangsterism. If we are not able to correctly identity our enemies, and if we allow our enemies to turn us against each other, we will stay poor for ever.
A person is a person where ever they may find themselves. Every human life must be counted as a human life. South Africa belongs to all who live in it.
Those who encourage xenophobia and ethnic prejudice are dividing the oppressed and doing the work of our oppressors. In this time of crisis we call on all progressive forces to unite against xenophobia. Let us work to build the democratic power of the oppressed from below.
Waziwa isitha sakho. Know your enemy.
Abahlali baseMjondolo, July 9, 2020.
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