Deconstructing the discourse of political parties on xenophobia –…

The messages focus on undocumented migrants, immigration and xenophobia. Current xenophobic rhetoric and politicians’ comments have created an “environment of tension and fear, and fuel anti-illegal, inciting and discriminatory anti-migrant movements to gain momentum and legitimacy to the detriment of all,” the Scalabrini Center said. this week.

Tension is rising in the country, following the gang rape of eight women in Krugersdorp, allegedly committed by illegal miners.

Scalabrini Center Advocacy Officer James Chapman said Daily Maverick that these statements particularly affect vulnerable migrants, including refugees, asylum seekers and survivors of human trafficking.

The recent incidents of inflammatory statements come after eight women were gang-raped during the filming of a music video in the Krugersdorp mining area known as the West Village, an area that has become notorious for illegal mining operations.

Learn more in Daily Maverick: “The ordeal of the victim of Krugersdorp: “I closed my eyes crying. Moments later, I was also raped, by three men.”

“Scalabrini would call on political parties, politicians and all South Africans to speak out in favor of social cohesion and the importance of living and working together as South African and migrant communities for a better South Africa “, said Chapman.

In recent months, several incidents have been described as xenophobic.

These include:

In June, United Nations special rapporteurs have called on the South African government to take against xenophobic mobilization.

DA condemns

The Democratic Alliance has spoken out specifically against xenophobia in recent weeks. In a strongly worded statement attributed to party leader John Steenhuisen, the main opposition party said: “The DA strongly condemns the recent incitement to xenophobia and attacks by politicians from multiple parties…political leaders doing politics cheap populist scapegoating foreigners for the ills of our country have misjudged the people of this country.

As a party, the African National Congress has not spoken directly about xenophobia since the Krugersdorp gang rapes and its links to illegal mining – but on the party’s Twitter feed there is a call for a march against the “illegal immigrants”, “zama zamas”. and “rapists”. The party called on law enforcement to shut down illegal mines.

At a cross-party protest on August 3 outside Krugersdorp Magistrates’ Court, SchedulesLive quoted ANC spokesman Pule Mabe as saying, “South Africa is not a playground… We are a very serious country. Those who are foreign nationals and want to come to this country must do so legally. Foreign nationals who are in the country illegally must be brought home because we cannot afford crimes to be committed by undocumented foreign nationals.

The ANC deviates

Daily Maverick contacted the ANC several times to confirm their stance on xenophobia, but was dodged – we were referred by the ANC media team to the organization’s leader Nomvula Mokonyane, who referred us to the president ANC International Relations Minister Lindiwe Zulu, who did not respond to calls or messages.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, who have the third-largest representation in parliament, made no reference to migrants in their statement on the Krugersdorp rapes. But said in a statement then: “The community of Krugersdorp has been under constant terror of the crime of the so-called zama zama, but there has been no consistent intervention from the authorities.”

Other parties such as the Patriotic Alliance (AP) and ActionSA – which have seats in city councils but not in parliament, and have made xenophobic comments in the past – have also spoken out in the wake of the gang rapes.

PA President Gayton McKenzie in a speech after he became mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipalitydescribed undocumented migrants as a “stain” and said the region would be an immigrant-free zone.

PA: shoot to kill?

Following the Krugersdorp crimes, McKenzie said the military must step in to attack all illegal mining activity and should “shoot to kill” if faced with violence from illegal miners.

An ActionSA statement on gang rape said:

“This kind of brutal, unprovoked crime is becoming increasingly common in South Africa and reflects a wider pattern of gender-based violence and the general breakdown of the rule of law under the ANC.” Although ActionSA did not mention foreigners, during a protest outside Krugersdorp Magistrates’ Court on August 11, the party tweeted that the government should tackle the issue of illegal immigration and “ensure that the rule of law is respected in order to prevent such violent crimes”. in our communities”.

Chairman of Action SA Herman Mashaba said ‘we must get rid of illegal aliens’ in a 2021 interview, where he was unapologetic about his stance on undocumented migrants.

History of xenophobic incidents

South Africa has a history of xenophobic incidents. In 1994, a survey found that 21% of South Africans favored a complete ban upon entry abroad.

In 2000, seven foreign nationals in Cape Town were killed within five weeks. Among those killed were Nigerians, Angolans and a Kenyan.

In 2008, violence against foreigners spread across the country and 62 people were killed. Reuters reported that 50,000 people, mostly Mozambicans and Zimbabweans, quit due to unrest. Less than a tenth of the 1,400 people arrested for xenophobic violence were in jail one year later.

In 2009, during protests by farmworkers in De Doorns, Western Cape, around 3,000 people, mostly from Zimbabwe, were evicted of the region. Although nationals of Lesotho and Zimbabwe worked in the farming area, the perception was that Zimbabweans at the time “systematically accepted lower wages from farmers and as a result farmers preferred to employ them rather than locals.” “, according to De Doorns. report titled Xenophobia and the exclusion of outsiders: tackling fragile social cohesion in South Africa’s diverse communities by Freedom House.

Xenophobic statements by politicians

Migrant activist Anthony Muteti said Daily Maverick this week that “as migrants, we note with regret the escalation of xenophobic statements by politicians across the political spectrum… For those, like me, who witnessed the xenophobic violence of 2008, the statements send shivers down my spine “.

Muteti, a Zimbabwean activist and one of the founders of People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty, said among the migrant community there was so much fear and discouragement because the statements sounded like ‘incitement to violence’ and “we know that the issue of migration is not a popular topic in the communities”.

“I can tell you now that Zimbabweans are sending everything they have across the border because the situation has never been more uncertain,” he said.

Previously, xenophobic comments and statements would arise during election periods, Muteti said, but now “there is a challenge to power at all levels, and migration has become a big issue”.

Daily Maverick asked Chapman of Scalabrini what effect inflammatory statements might have on easing or expanding possible tensions.

His response: “Divisive and inflammatory comments against migrants will lead to increased harassment, violence and crime against migrants in South Africa, including migrant women and girls, over the course of a month dedicated to fighting and stopping gender-based violence”. DM

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