South Africa: We Must Build a Powerful United Front Against Xenophobia

One person died and 5 others were injured in fresh unrest in the Johannesburg CBD on September 8, 2019.

The ongoing attacks on women and migrants have led to deep pessimism about the state of SA. Social cohesion and human rights seem like a distant dream, and it's not just the president who has been absent. Civil society and trade unions largely seem missing in action too.

Alarmingly, one major civil society organisation issued a long statement on xenophobia which presented the crisis as one solely suffered by African migrants, and completely left out the fact that many migrants from Asia have also been attacked. This statement, with its crass disregard for Asian migrants was, itself, xenophobic.

Much reporting in the media is also complicit with organised xenophobia. Migrants holding citizenship are routinely described as "foreigners". Xenophobic mobs attacking people on the streets are described as "protesters". Police statements conflating two separate categories of people, "migrants" and "criminals", are reported uncritically.

The politicians in the ANC and the DA, with Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba arguably being the most crude and dangerous, who have incited the latest wave of attacks seem to be able to descend into Trumpian forms of politics without consequence. They are not recalled from their positions by their parties, civil society does not picket their offices,...

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