Open Letter: Global South Against Xenophobia Condemns Call for Violence Against Non-Local South Africans on June 16
15 June 2021
Global South against Xenophobia (GSAX) condemns in the strongest terms the call for violence against and expulsion of non-local South Africans by the right wing, fascist group, South Africa for South Africans First in it’s planned Operation Dudula. We ask all just people in South Africa to read our statement below to properly inform themselves, our proposed redress measures to prevent violence, and to fearlessly call it out.
A poster has been circulating on social media since Monday, 7 June 2021, in which the vile, xenophobically-named “South Africa for South Africans First” in an operation code named, “Operation Dudula” calls for the “mass removal” of “all foreigners with citizenship or not” from tuck shops, companies and vending stands by 16 June 2021.
It is not the first time such calls have reached the public. The consequences, coupled with lack of decisive state action, have always been catastrophic in our country. We are gravely concerned about the safety of non-local South Africans (permanent residents/citizens with documents and those undocumented)—migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. This is not to forget the local South Africans who inevitably get caught up as victims in any ensuing violence.
Important to note in such xenophobic calls is that it is people from the poor and working classes from other parts of Africa and from South East Asia who are targeted. That they are some of the most vulnerable people in our society goes to show the cowardice, lack of political integrity and destructive intentions of xenophobic groups, such as the degenerate engineers of hate behind Operation Dudula.
These calls are a serious violation of the Constitution of the Republic. They contravene the values of human rights, Pan Africanism and humanity. They go against the ideals of the anti-apartheid struggle and the founding principles of South Africa’s hard-won democracy. That the fascists are calling for xenophobic action on June 16 is a slap in the face of our historic, heroic youth who initiated the Soweto uprising, which paved the way for waging a fearless people’s war in the anti-Apartheid struggle. The contributions, suffering, sacrifice of lives and the memory of such young comrades as Tsietsi Mashinini, Hector Peterson and Antoinette Sithole, amongst others of the Black Consciousness Movement, is held to ridicule when xenophobia is linked to their courageous legacy which we celebrate on June 16, Soweto Day. We say NO to their obscene degrading of our precious struggle history.
President Ramaphosa repeatedly emphasizes African integration as key for all our prosperity and the negative impact of xenophobia in achieving this goal. Yet, the recent and repeated xenophobic calls clearly indicate the existence of reactionary, barbaric forces in our society. President Ramaphosa, as our country’s leader, and indeed the whole South African government, has a duty to care and responsibility to protect all who live here, without favour or prejudice to national origin.
We thus call on Government to cease from remaining silent and low key on this situation but to strike immediately and energetically to denounce Operation Dudula. The President must instruct his ministers and all civil servants to act to prevent violence because it is in his and the authority and power of the entire government to do so.
GSAX and the Solidarity Supports Front (convened by C-19 PC/BNWG and Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee (GHCC)) on 7 June 2021 immediately informed the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) about the xenophobic call and requested urgent measures to combat the threat. We have received a positive response that the complaint is being handled, including via SAPS which is on highly alert. However, we still emphasize the need for decisive political action from government to clearly name this xenophobia. Such a response must condemn and clarify exactly what legal consequences the xenophobic perpetrators will face. This must be accompanied by commitment to not just be crisis driven but consistently proactive in ultimately preventing these flare ups. The President, the police, intelligence services, and all relevant national, provincial, and local state institutions must act now to deal with the present crisis and consistently to create a culture of welcoming attentiveness to integration of non-locals and cohesion with locals.
We also recommend the steps below for undertaking by the state, civil society and every just person living in South Africa:
1. The state must properly investigate the forces behind these xenophobic calls, arrest, charge and sentence the instigators. Those joining in spreading misinformation, fueling tensions, and inciting hatred and at this volatile moment must also be arrested and charged.
2. National, provincial and local government leaders must speak out urgently via the media to their constituencies and communities against xenophobia and discrimination. They must make it a point to visit communities in which non-local South Africans live to offer messages of support and goodwill, reinforce constitutional obligations they are sworn to uphold and protect, communicate in no uncertain terms the crime and consequences of xenophobia and give encouraging messages of integration and solidarity instead. These efforts should be accompanied by a sincere commitment to better their own ethics and performance as politicians and civil servants for building an equal society free of corruption and poverty. They must thus acknowledge that their slack allows opportunistic wickedness, posing as some kind of revolutionary popular politics which target the vulnerable because of the socio-economic tensions daily experienced in our communities. The fact is those in office are failing all the poor and working classes and it is their performance—not the non-local South Africans—that is the solution. State officials must show their accountability by conducting themselves transparently and decisively to defuse tensions.
3. Government must involve broad communities in positive acts of solidarity and social cohesion. It must work with communities and civil society to address root causes of insecurity that misdirect desperate people to hatred and xenophobia. It must efficiently redress socio-economic needs via radical equitable access to social services, employment and economic relief to meet the needs of all people in our country. It must also create and implement effective integration policies, including supportive education for all regarding the value of a dynamic, open society which is integral to decolonized democracy.
4. Every civil society organization—social movements, community-based organizations, NGOs, trade unions, institutions of learning, etc.—must condemn the xenophobic calls and show solidarity with non-local South Africans. They must relentlessly i
demand that government and the police not minimise the danger posed by these calls, especially in the run up to
local elections where we see a number of political parties riding a xenophobic ticket for votes. Civil society must close ranks and act seriously to prevent violence and loss of life.
5. Youth—local and non-local—must act together and stand firm against this heinous call on a day designated to celebrate the energy and hope in youth to create the just world we are seeking to build. The generations before have struggled to plant the seeds towards this, which our youth must now tend and nurture, given the various betrayals and setbacks that have since occurred. Youth must loudly and joyously proclaim the future of South Africa as the future of the people—all the people who have for centuries been violently mistreated as less than human. They must emphasize that scapegoating of any group is not the answer to our country’s problems. They must proudly, fearlessly and confidently claim Youth Day—Soweto Day as still theirs—a day for demonstrating their vision of ethical leadership for a just future. In announcing that we must act in solidarity to advance a prosperous and socially just society for ALL, youth must wholeheartedly reignite the liberation struggle until every single person in all our communities—here and everywhere—live with equality, dignity and freedom. As with the June 16, 1976 youth, this generation of youth must show us the ethical way forward where adults, such as the fascist xenophobes, are failing. They must also identify the most vulnerable in this group who experience some of the most terrible work and GBV violence here—non-local girl children and women—listen to them to identify needs and support them to access these. Our anti-apartheid veterans, the elderly and apartheid survivors must add their voices to condemning xenophobia and calling for solidarity and justice, thus also passing their blessing on to youth as they stand up for our ideals of a just society.
My people first! Our people first!
We call on all people wherever you are in South Africa to use the occasion of the disgraceful call made—the call lacking anything humane, lacking uBuntu—as an opportunity to grow something new—a deep understanding that “my people” means all people.
Stand up. Voice out against hatred and xenophobia. Join the various community and other solidarity support interventions protesting xenophobia. Rally to protect and stand with our non-local South African brothers and sisters. Send messages demanding our leaders act properly. Send messages of love and solidarity to those being singled out for oppression this Youth Day. Engage in critical and creative discussions about the free world we are building. Applaud those taking a stand against hatred, violence and divisiveness. Send a clear message to fascists and xenophobes—NO to your disgusting violence; we will act relentlessly to stop your inhumanity which has no place in our society. And let this be the beginning of unrelenting such efforts going forward.
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-Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
-Lawyers for Human Rights
-One Voice For All Hawkers
-Ithuba Lethu Recycling
-Apsara Primary Cooperative
-Network for Immigrant Rights & Responsibilities in South Africa (NIRRSA)
-Marikana Youth Development Forum
-Chronicles of Refugees and Immigrants
-Gauteng Housing Crisis Committee (GHCC)
-Market Users Commitee (MUC)
-Africa Solidarity Network(ASONET)
-Brixton Community Forum (BCF)
-Ilembe Human Rights Network (IHRN)
-Housing Assembly (HA)
-Waterberg Women Advocacy Organization
-Voice of Azania
-United Public Safety Front (UPSF)
-West Coast Food Sovereignty and Solidarity Forum
-Landless Peoples Movement SA -Elliot Paralegal Advice
-The Trauma Centre for Survivors of Violence and Torture
-Botshabelo Unemployed Movement(BUM)
-African Diaspora Workers Network (ADWN)
-Sonke Gender Justice
-Right2Know Campaign (R2K)
-Academy for Contextual Metaphysics (The Academy)
-Makause Community Development Forum
-Waterberg Women Advocacy Organization
-Ke Nako Mental Health Foundation (KNMHF)
-Leratong Advice Centre
-Intlantsi Creative Development Project (INTLANTSI)
-Frontline Support (FS)
-Delft Social Change Group
-Tujaliane Community Organisation (TUJCO)
-Bishop Lavis Action Committee (BLAC)
-People Against Suffering Suppression Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP)