Saturday, May 24, 2008

Xenophobia: Now to find scapegoats

The problem of the xenophobic violence lies squarely at the feet of the ANC–led gubbermunt but it is desperate to divert that fact away from itself.

It has mismanaged the migrant problem and the people carrying out the attacks themselves have said that it is not a ‘third force’ or anyone else spurring them on to the violence. They simply want foreigners gone.

But no, that won’t suit the gubbermunt. It must find a scapegoat.

A ‘third force’ must be to blame. After all, the ANC track record of gubbernance is exemplary, South Africa is a country of blissful harmony, so how could the problem possibly be of their doing?

Hey, Mad Bob in Zimbabwe still uses the colonialists as an excuse for his madness, why not use apartheid on this side? It still has some mileage and it might just resonate with the folks.

"Bad apartheid people are causing the violence"…yeah, we’ll go with that.

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South Africa's security chief on Friday accused rightwingers linked to the former apartheid government of fanning xenophobic violence that has spread to Cape Town, the second largest city and tourist centre.

At least 42 people have been killed and thousands driven from their homes in 12 days of attacks by mobs accusing foreigners from other parts of Africa of taking jobs and fuelling crime.

The South African government has come under strong criticism for its slow reaction to the violence, which started in a Johannesburg township on May 11, and for not adequately addressing poverty widely blamed for the bloodshed.

But Manala Manzini, head of the National Intelligence Agency, said that people linked to former apartheid security forces were stoking the violence.

"Definitely there is a third hand involved. There is a deliberate effort, orchestrated, well-planned," he said.

"We have information to the effect that elements that were involved in the pre-1994 election violence are in fact the same elements that have re-started contacts with people that they used in the past."

Manzini said some of the violence emanated from worker hostels where Zulu migrants traditionally live.

Much of the township bloodshed in the final years of apartheid involved brutal clashes between supporters of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress, which has been in power since the end of white rule. IFP fighters were widely believed to be clandestinely sponsored by the apartheid government.

"We don't want to blame the IFP for this ... but some of their people might be used," Manzini said.

'There is no room for this behaviour'

On Friday, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe expressed the party's support for President Thabo Mbeki's decision to deploy the army to support the police in halting the tide of violence.

In an article published on the ANC's website, Mantashe presented a reminder, ahead of Africa Day on May 25, of the kindness shown to South Africans by other African countries during apartheid.

"Many of us, including myself, will think of the kindness we received in the poorest communities of Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria and many other African states.

"We will recall that our neighbours were collectively punished by the apartheid regime for harbouring the cadres of the ANC.

"We will remember that our children were given spaces in overcrowded schools in remote rural villages, and when we were injured and ill, the hospitals of many African countries nursed us back to health," he wrote.

After spreading across the Gauteng province, the violence reached townships in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and the Cape.

Many residents in these areas have accused foreigners of snatching away jobs and houses from South Africans; some accuse foreigners of taking their wives.

"A shameful pogrom, ill-informed and angry with people whom they perceive to be robbing them of their right to services. Is this the truth?" wrote Mantashe.

"The same mob that accused people of being criminals acted in the most obscene of criminal ways.

"There is no room for this behaviour in our country ever; there is no reason that compels us to behave in this atrocious manner.

"For this reason we support the deployment of the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] to the affected areas, to do no more than support the police in rooting out the criminals who inspired these acts of barbarism," he said.

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Hey Mantashe, buddy, you forgot to mention the ‘third force’ in your article. Stick to the script. Tsk. Tsk.

* Hat tip: Denise

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