The present events unfolding in Gauteng Province- City of Tshwane in South Africa are once again reminding us of our mandate, that for a very long time, we’ve been silent, ignoring and reluctant to face our hardships as Africans.
We’re thus reminded of Frantz Fanon when he said, “the development of violence among colonised people will be disproportionate to the violence exercised by the threatened colonial regime, whereby violence is in action all-inclusive and national”.
Because we’re a growing economy still recovering from our bitter past, we need to confront our social defects before they raise their ugly heads again. South Africans are travelling all over the world, seeking better opportunities and sometimes we’re finding ourselves in difficult circumstances.
As a result, we shouldn’t unfairly demonise ourselves in SA, but seek to understand that every country has its own prejudices, its own sense of superiority or exceptionalism. People are forever travelling all over the world seeking better opportunities and sometimes find themselves in very hostile circumstances. People from Mexico for example, are trying to get to the United States but they sometimes find themselves in very harsh detention centres.
Some disappear without a trace. Most of the skirmishes we have seen are happening in extremely underprivileged societies where people are fighting for resources. So this phenomenon is definitely not uniquely South African.
On this African continent, not very long ago we had a Ghana Must Go campaign which entailed hostilities against Ghanaian migrants in Nigeria. Ghana retaliated to this. In Ivory Coast there were physical attacks on migrants from Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal and others. Not so long ago in Botswana, there’re hostilities in the informal sector between Batswana and Zimbabweans. In Malawi, people from Kenya and Tanzania were beaten up on the streets for selling CDs on the streets cheaper than Malawian traders. We thus oppose that South Africans are xenophobic, because in essence, we simply lack political leadership from the highest office in the country.
We also need to come-up with innovative ways to possibly incorporate the symbols of our past into our present SA in an effort towards building an inclusive future. If a poverty stricken country like Indonesia can do it, what’s stopping South Africa?
We continue to live with the continuous citations that natives are untrustworthy, lazy and blood-thirsty. Allegations that Africans only want hand-outs, free shelter and jobs they do not deserve at the expense of their counterparts.
This notion thus implies that Africans do not deserve anything beyond the discretion of white European largesse and that those ‘cheeky-kaffirs’ with more self-determined existence who dare pose a threat to the status quo which has been sustained by psychosis of self-hate, mixed with decades of psychological onslaught which has accepted the normative of bizarre, perverse and cruel human behaviour have no right to speak in the new South Africa.
For a large part of our own, SA is one country that has dealt with compromises. It’s one country that has not been able to frame its own history and its own narrative.
We have spoken enough about ‘reconciliation’ even though there hasn’t been much reconciliation. We thus need to talk more about ‘the reconciliation of the economy, the haves and the have-not, reconciliation between those who were privileged and those who were underprivileged under one roof.
We thus appeal to our fellow South Africans to rethink their moves before engaging in any action causing material and immaterial harm to their fellow Africans. We’re mindful that, most graduates today are still white. Financial capital is still in the hands of a small minority. We thus think we need to be very clear that people expect things to look different in 2017 compared to 1994. When people don’t see this change, they are bound to be upset and there will be a sense of betrayal. It’s not a secret that South Africans feel betrayed by their own political leaders already!
Whilst dealing with this, let’s not forget, thanks to crony capital, that the majority of the black population is watching tenders flying around between government officials and their friends and relatives, rather than being accrued to benefit small businesses so that they can use those projects to employ more people and reduce unemployment. So the issue here is that, at primary level, the value chain and economic structure in this country. It still privileges those who are already privileged and penalises those who are working on the margins.
We thus empathize with our youth that led the #Fees_Must_Fall campaign, the #Data_Must_Fall campaign, and continue supporting the #Xenophobic_Must_Fall campaign, for theirs, remains a legitimate cause. It’s clear that young people do not have the patience and the sentiment to wait for things to happen slowly and organically.
We are deeply concerned that South Africans are not properly equipped to deal with violence very well. We’re simply not trained to deal with the violence of the economy and the way that it manifests within our social situations and social pathology.
This ultimately, manifests in the forms of violence in the workplace, in our homes and it also manifests as violence in the social setting in the form of various social defects inter alia; alcohol addiction and abuse, sugar diabetes and other conditions leading to deeper, wider and stronger social inequality.
To remedy the situation, we urgently need to have a different kind of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in South Africa whilst strengthening the work of the National Planning Commission and urgently adopt a ‘no-tolerance’ policy for anyone going against the law. And ultimately, re-create an environment that shows that the possibilities that were promised in 1994 were not just lip-service, but realistic goals.
Koketso Marishane is the Deputy Chairperson for AAPI SA.