The failure of the ANC government to implement the Freedom Charter and make fundamental changes to the economy and transform the lives of all South Africans is at the heart of xenophobic violence, according to National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa general secretary Irvin Jim.
Addressing journalists in Johannesburg on Thursday, Jim said the xenophobic attack have thrown South Africa into a state of shameful turmoil.
“In Numsa, we have consistently maintained and repeated over the last 20 years [that] the inherited colonial triple crises of poverty, inequality and unemployment and the colonial status of the African masses in post-1994 South Africa will continue to deepen unless we break new ground in destroying the inherited colonial and white dominated economy. Further, the ANC government’s neoliberal economic policies have failed to reverse the de-industrialisation which has further worsened the already existing crisis of unemployment,” said Jim.
He added that Numsa, together with its allies within Cosatu and the United Front would engage those who are expressing anger at fellow Africans to redirect their anger against the proper target — the neo-liberal agenda of capital and its allies in the ANC and the South African Communist Party. Jim said his union appreciated the widespread public condemnation of these attacks against foreign nationals and fully supports the demonstrations calling for calm and re-integration of foreign nationals back into communities.
Thousands marched through the Johannesburg CBD on Thursday to protest against xenophobia. Expelled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi also addressed the crowd. President Jacob Zuma this week strongly condemned acts of xenophobic violence. Zuma has established an inter-ministerial task team to help quell the attacks on foreign nationals. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Tuesday announced the government’s decision to deploy the army in Alexandra and parts of KwaZulu-Natal to help police stop the attacks.
ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza dismissed Numsa’s claims as cheap political point scoring.
“It is fashionable that when we are faced with challenges that need all of us, people start pointing fingers. You can’t use the ANC as a scapegoat. The ANC government has been working hard to resolve the socioeconomic challenges in the country. We all have a role to play to change the economy. Numsa too has a role. Playing a blame game does not make them look better. Transformation is a national project. It cannot be an ANC preserve,” said Khoza.