Workers and Socialist Party condemns xenophobic attacks in Orange Farm
In response to an M&G Online-article posted today, the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) wishes to put the record straight on our uncompromising opposition to xenophobia. Whilst the article represents our views on xenophobia accurately, by linking the WASP-supported housing protests in Thula ‘Mntwana – during which no xenophobic incidences occurred – with unrelated xenophobic attacks that took place in other parts of Orange Farm and nearby Sebokeng, the M&G nevertheless gives the impression that WASP was involved in the latter protests which are tainted with xenophobia. This is a matter of grave concern to us, making it vital that we be allowed the right to respond to clarify the facts and restate our role in the struggles that are currently taking place south of Johannesburg.
The community of Thula ‘Mntwana is engaged in disciplined and non-violent resistance against threatened mass evictions. Neither during Friday’s protest, nor at any point in the course of this struggle, has there been a single incident of xenophobia. The communities where it is alleged that looting of foreign-owned shops took place are far away from Thula ‘Mntwana. Neither the community of Thula ‘Mntwana nor the Workers and Socialist Party has anything to do with these incidents. We distance ourselves from all xenophobic attacks which we condemn in strongest possible terms.
WASP stands for working class unity in action against xenophobia
Fighting xenophobia, racism and all forms of divisions within the working class is one of the key tasks of WASP. We are combating it actively within the working class, through political education and in action at every community protest in which we participate. The protests in Thula ‘Mntwana are part of a drive towards a national campaign for service delivery initiated by WASP. The campaign platform makes it compulsory for all communities seeking to join not only to renounce xenophobia, but to also fight it.
Our approach in Thula ‘Mntwana has been no different. We insisted on the community desisting from any action which is, or may be construed as, xenophobic. WASP’s struggle against xenophobia is particularly important as xenophobic sentiments are common in desperate and extremely poor communities. The denouncement of xenophobia by government is hypocritical because it is precisely the policies of this government which foster xenophobia – in failing to provide adequate housing, jobs and services for all and disqualifying poor, desperate foreign nationals from applications for housing and services for indigent people, the ANC government is creating conditions fertile and fostering xenophobia in many poor communities.
On allegations of foreign nationals owning RDP-houses, WASP’s position is that whilst this clearly points to corruption as the government officials could only have allocated the houses against their ‘xenophobic’, government policy through bribery and corruption, the foreign nationals must be treated as victims of government corruption and must be defended against forced evictions in the same way as SA citizens.
WASP is campaigning for an inclusive policy on housing which entitles also poor foreign nationals to free housing, to ensure that they are not left at the mercy of unscrupulous and corrupt government officials. Working class solidarity, unity and internationalism are fundamental pillars of struggle against capitalism and for a socialist transformation of society, hence these principles are non-negotiable for WASP.
The facts about struggle for housing in Thula ‘Mntwana
The community of Thula ‘Mntwana is fighting against the lack of housing and government corruption in the allocation of the few houses which have been built. The community has been promised houses since 1996 when they were relocated from Moffatt Park to the current location of Thula ‘Mntwana. Ever since, the community has endured broken promises of successive ANC governments and shattered dreams of a better life.
When ultimately 1030 housing units were built and completed in March 2013, it became clear that the numbers were inadequate and government officials started selling them. After several appeals to government to allocate the houses in a fair and transparent manner fell on deaf ears, the community took a decision to occupy them. In so doing, the community was first and foremost refusing to endorse the corruption and sale of the RDP houses. The community is prepared to move if only the list for proper allocation of houses can be issued for public scrutiny and community supervision of the allocation according to the list.
Government apparently obtained a court order effectively evicting the community from the occupied houses. The community has decided to oppose this threat of eviction. Together with the Workers and Socialist Party, the community is mobilising for rolling mass action in Thula ‘Mntwana. It is appealing for solidarity from all members of the community, whether of South African or foreign origin, neighbouring communities and all progressive forces in the country to come to its defence in this struggle.
This is all the more urgent and necessary because, judging by the threats of the ANC councillor and MMC for housing, Mr Dan Bovu, about ‘the law taking its due course’, it is clear that the government is contemplating suppressing this struggle by brutal force. This would follow on the drowning in blood of the struggle of the Elias Motsoaledi community in Soweto, where a member of the community was brutally killed by the police last month, not to mention Ficksburg and Marikana, the most well-known examples the increasing state repression.
The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and WASP are currently involved in this struggle, as part of broad mobilisation of communities involved in struggles for better delivery of essential public services, housing and jobs south of Johannesburg. This mobilisation itself is a step in the building a national campaign for service delivery, through which WASP aims to unite all working class and poor communities. In addition to Thula ‘Mntwana, the campaign at present involves several Gauteng communities such as Freedom Park, Elias Motsoaledi, Kliptown and Khutsong.
WASP has taken this initiative to end the tragedy that sees working class communities throughout the country endure enormous sacrifices in bitter and desperate struggles for delivery of housing, water, electricity, jobs etc, while remaining disunited. It is this deplorable lack of unity within and across communities which we believe is a significant factor in the defeats of the struggles of these communities.
These heroic struggles demand that communities combat all sectarian and divisive chauvinist tendencies such as tribalism, regionalism and above all, xenophobia. These tendencies are divisive and undermine working class solidarity and unity in action, which is the most important condition for the victory of every working class struggle.
WASP stands for struggle in demand of housing, electricity, water, jobs and education for all, for an end to all privileges for politicians – for workers representatives on workers wages – and for the nationalisation of the mines, banks, big farms and factories under democratic control by workers and communities to ensure that the wealth of this country can be used for the benefit of all who live in it.