Monthly Archives: May 2008

march against xenophobia

Social Movements Indaba

March against xenophobia and hate

21 May 2008

The SMI is mobilising social movements, immigrant communities, NGOs, unions, concerned residents from poor areas around the province for a march this Saturday, 24th of May. The march will gather at Pieter Roos Park (Empire and Queen Street) from 9a.m., proceed through Hillbrow and stop at the Departments of Home Affairs and Housing before ending at the Library Gardens. The message marchers will be conveying is that our struggle is common and knows no borders. Everyone who wants to make their voices heard should join us – our struggle knows no borders.

The Social Movements Indaba (SMI) – a co-ordinating national body of social movements, civil society and activist organisations – is organising with its affiliated organisations and immigrant communities to roll back the groundswell of xenophobia. In the years since its formation in 2002, the SMI has linked organisations of the poor in struggle for basic services, international solidarity and against police repression. At its last national meeting in December in Cape Town, the SMI identified xenophobia as a pervasive problem in communities and undertook to campaign against hatred of foreigners. Now that the crisis of hate crime is no longer foreboding and is terrifyingly HERE, there is no time to stall and wish we were better prepared. We are without hesitation committed to the struggles for social justice, internationalism and solidarity with all repressed people.

While the police have been deployed to try keep a lid on the pressure that has boiled over, this is no solution to the safety and security of all. As a xenophobic force in Johannesburg pre-existing the outbreak of violence, the police cannot be trusted to be more than the brute barrier between perpetrators and their targeted victims. The South African Police Services and Johannesburg Metro Police harass immigrants to solicit bribes as a matter of practice. Calling on the police to ‘do their work’ as president Thabo Mbeki and his government have done does not, therefore, address the issues of safety and security amongst immigrant communities. The refugee communities do not trust the police as impartial arbiters of the conflict. The police conducted a brutal raid on the Central Methodist Church on the 31st of January 2008 under the pretext of crime prevention. Criminalisation of immigrants is a smokescreen for deportation and bribery that the police has not cleared.

Long-lasting safety and security for all does not include deportation of foreign nationals, whether voluntary or not. Xenophobia’s origins lie within the conditions of poverty in which the majority of South Africans live. Immigrants have been targeted for their ethnic difference and for their very similarity with their persecutors. Seen as competitors for scarce jobs and housing, south Africans have misdirected their anger at conditions of poverty that are unchanging. Their fellow brothers and sisters who are enduring the same cannot be responsible for what the economic and political system has created.

While we struggle for a change to the neo-liberal capitalist system that has created this reality, rearguard struggles for safety and security of immigrants in the country must continue. The SMI gives thanks for those humanitarian organisations, emergency services and churches that are trying to stem the tide of bloodletting and forced removals. We will organize against the creation of refugee camps and work towards the reintegration of immigrants in our communities. In working to recover our common humanity and restore calm, delegations from the SMI are meeting with community-based organisations in Alex and the inner city, and as the programme of action to roll-back the hate unfolds, the SMI will be going further afield to speak to affected communities.

— No one is illegal —

The SMI will be convening a press conference about the wave of xenophobic violence tearing through Gauteng and what civil society organisations and social movements are doing to combat it. The press conference will be taking place tomorrow, Wednesday 21 May 2008 – APF offices – 7th floor of Vogas House, 123 Pritchard Street (cnr Mooi) Johannesburg at 11a.m.

For directions or other enquiries, please contact the Anti Privatisation Forum on 011 333 8334.

For comment, please contact: Silumko Radebe (APF) 0721737268; Mhlobo Gunguluzi (Khanya College) 0843773013; Brian Burayai (Refugee Fellowship) 0732865667

The Social Movements Indaba includes amongst other organisations: the Anti Privatisation Forum, Jubilee South Africa, Imbawula Trust, Sounds of Edutainment, Umzabalazo we Jubilee, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, Inner City Resource Centre, Kliptown Concerned Residents, Khanya College, Earthlife Africa (Johannesburg), Palestinian Solidarity Committee, Golden Triangle Crisis Committee, Samancor Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee, African Renaissance Civic Movement, Group of Refugees Without Voice

Banner painting and poster making:

there will be banner painting and poster making for the march at the Spaza Art Gallery, 19 Wilhelmina Street, troyeville on Friday starting at 6pm. Paints and brushes provided, attempts being made to get fabric, but additional fabric welcome.
soup will also be provided. bring bread and creativity.

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anti-xenophobia action – update

Winning a war, hard as it may be, is just the beginning.

Creating a different society is not only harder but requires resilience, courage, conviction

– perhaps much more than the initial struggle eve -demanded.

– Haydee Santamaria

So, my sisters and brothers we begin yet again in this journey which does not have an end. We continue to seek ways of speaking not only of the multiple traumas we suffer in our society but to find a language that help us come closer to an understanding of the problem and the challenges we face. For many, there has been no break of course, the struggle has been relentless – we move into this carrying the scars of yesterday. I think that just how it is…

Yesterday we met at 13:30 in CGE Boardroom. Thank you to sisters and brothers who turned up at short notice. The discussion was very productive. We looked at the immediate situation and balanced it with medium and short term. We will circulate the notes from the meeting and see what we can do to take things from there. Many people have responded with practical assistance and I would like to direct them to the relevant structures that handle this.

I will be talking to the Department of Social Development focal person in Gauteng to ensure that we are clear of the places of contact and how to offer assistance in a structured manner. Thanks to those who took up the challenge yesterday and have already been in touch with the DSOC person in Jeppe. Sanitary wear, toiletries, baby formula, blankets and food supply has been received. Much more is needed, I am afraid.

We are finalising the fact sheet and we will be circulating it to all colleagues. The Fact Sheet contains inter alia, basic provisions needed, the stance of government on ‘foreign nationals’ (I hate this label), the situation on identity documentation and the assistance to victims of violence in police stations etc. We would like you to circulate this fact sheet and help us to develop it further.

The Legal Working Group of the Chapter 9 Institutions has already been set up. Nomazotsho Memani-Balani (Commissioner of the CGE) is chairing it and it comprises the South African Human Rights Commission and other civil society organisations. I say ‘other civil society organisations’ because I do not want to leave any organisation out. Please, we need the affidavits of victims and people who have been turned away from places of shelter, especially those owned by government. Amongst other things, this Committee is taking up issues of access and administration to justice, including exploring the special and extra-ordinary courts. We’ll circulate the special hot line number and where affidavits must be submitted.

Understanding the nature of the conflict and its causes is another area that is emerging strongly. The Community Liaison Working Group will be set up within the next few days to explore the different platforms and dialogues that must be set up. The CGE and SAHRC will announce its composition and TORs.

Let us know of other initiatives and let us keep talking of ways in which we can together stop the breakdown of the moral imperative for which all fought so hard for. We need courage now and a stubborn belief in the right to human dignity for all of us.

In struggle and solidarity,

Nomboniso

CSVR xenophobia seminar

WHY DO WE FEAR AND HATE THE ‘OTHER’?
UNDERSTANDING XENOPHOBIA IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN CONTEXT

Xenophobia has been described as an intense dislike, hatred or fear of others perceived to be strangers. Xenophobia describes attitudes, prejudices and behaviour that reject, exclude and often vilify persons, based on the perception that they are outsiders or foreigners to the community, society or national identity.
The recent ‘xenophobic attacks’ has highlighted the lack of understanding of what xenophobia means in the South African context and its root causes and manifestations.
Against this background, this seminar will discuss theoretical understandings of xenophobia and their implications for policy making and implementation, research and advocacy, as well as interventions in the current context.
Topics:
• “Xenophobia: The politics of fear and the fear of politics” – Professor Michael Neocosmos Department of Sociology, University of Pretoria.
• “ The psychology of xenophobia: the development of social and cultural identities”
• “A critical analysis of the current legislation and policies around migration in South Africa and its links to xenophobia” – Forced Migration Studies Wits University
• “Practical interventions to uproot xenophobia: gains, gaps and challenges” – Consortium of Refugee Affairs.

DATE : MONDAY 26TH OF MAY
TIME : 14: 00 – 16:30
VENUE : CONSTITUTION HILL
RSVP BY FRIDAY 23 MAY: Sophie Mulaudzi – smulaudzi@csvr.org.za
Tel: 011 – 403 5102/3
LUNCH WILL BE SERVED AT 13:30

xenophobia: call to action (Nomboniso Gasa)

A CALL TO ACTION

When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible.

When sufferings become unendurable the cries no are no longer heard.

The cries too, too, fall like rain summer – Bertolt Brecht

This is an email I have dreaded writing for days but whose time has come nevertheless. There can be no doubt that the violence that is erupting in our country has reached levels that compel us to respond in ways that are driven by clarity of thought, moral conviction and a clear refusal to allow our hard worn freedom to be taken by criminals- irrespective of the masquerade they use.

I do not have the eloquence nor the skill of the poet to describe the heaviness of my heart and the fear that should I not act in a manner consistent with my own beliefs, I too, will become ‘collateral’ in this battle that is hard to define. I hesitate to use the labels that are floating around, xenophobic attacks, hatred of foreign nationals, poor against the poor because these too are laden with multiple meanings which in this case I fear obscure much more than then they reveal. I ask you, as sisters and comrades to join me in our struggle as we make sense of what is going on us around us. I ask you to think of ways that can assist us to look at the situation beyond ‘body count’ imagery and words that are crowding our televisions today.

I know that my own reaction is informed partly by the time I have spent thinking of meaningful interventions. These days, I sleep in the company of pregnant women, children with ring worms, eyes bulging with untold fear. But then again, the nightmare passes and the wave of anxiety passes over. I am awake and glad that I am in my own bed. After such nightmare tonight – it occurred to me that we can share our fears, weaknesses and form a strong link of humanity against evil-doing. Yes, my comrades, taking a neighbour’s shack is evil-doing. Raping women because they are born elsewhere is evil-doing. It can never be acceptable.

This call to action is not moral outrage. It is a cry out- STOP. I ask you, to assist me and others in thinking of ways to stem this violence in practical ways. For many of us, including those who reside in Alexander and other areas, this is yet another layer in lives of untold misery and multiple trauma. I ask you to join them in solidarity against the dehumanising pain that is born so publicly and without any space for privacy, let alone hope that it will end sometime soon.

I can think of no other intervention but that which places me as an individual and a collective in a space where I too, can come face to face with the danger that is faced by our sisters, brother and comrades on all sides of the conflict. We may have different ways of intervention. And I am sure many of you will have a sensible and effective strategy and intervention. Please enlighten me and share your wisdom.

This urgent call is directed at all those who refused to be paralysed by fear. My proposal is simple; we meet and work out a strategy for direct involvement which involves talking together with our people. There are a number of organisations, including community organisations, migrant networks and many others. Please advise me how we can best organise this so that we can have effective intervention.

I suggest that we find a venue that is safe and neutral where we can exchange ideas, without the labels of the institutions and organisations in which we are located.

If this call to action resonates with you, please respond and ‘yes you want to be a part of the initiative’. We know from the turbulent 1980s that it is only when we respond in an organised fashion to crisis that we do not only begin to understand its complexity but also work together in solidarity. Above all we have to work together now, in common purpose for the restoration of dignity of all persons in our country.

I call you, my comrades, to action to ensure that the cries are heard.

Nomboniso Gasa

Vulamasango Initiatives




march against xenophobia (jhb)

Social Movements Indaba

March against xenophobia and hate

21 May 2008

The SMI is mobilising social movements, immigrant communities, NGOs, unions, concerned residents from poor areas around the province for a march this Saturday, 24th of May. The march will gather at Pieter Roos Park (Empire and Queens Road) from 9a.m., proceed through Hillbrow and stop at the Departments of Home Affairs and Housing before ending at the Library Gardens. The message marchers will be conveying is that our struggle is common and knows no borders. Everyone who wants to make their voices heard should join us – our struggle knows no borders.
— No one is illegal —
For directions or other enquiries, please contact Silumko Radebe on 011 333 8334.
For comment, please contact: Silumko Radebe (APF) 0721737268; Mhlobo Gunguluzi (Khanya College) 0843773013; Brian Burayai (Refugee Fellowship) 0732865667
The Social Movements Indaba includes amongst other organisations: the Anti Privatisation Forum, Jubilee South Africa, Imbawula Trust, Sounds of Edutainment, Umzabalazo we Jubilee, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project, Inner City Resource Centre, Kliptown Concerned Residents, Khanya College, Earthlife Africa (Johannesburg), Palestinian Solidarity Committee, Golden Triangle Crisis Committee, Samancor Retrenched Workers Crisis Committee, African Renaissance Civic Movement, Group of Refugees Without Voice







Unproud South African (xenophobia)

The last few days have brought many of us who live in the geographic-political entity called South Africa face to face with just how bad xenophobia is in this country whose complexity can give us a massive headache. I must admit to a near emotional and intellectual shut down from the horror we have experienced over the last week. It is at once difficult and easy to make sense of how people can mete out such brutality to other people living with and near them.

I am not usually a romantic — at least not when it comes to public political concerns. However, I am deeply depressed and almost passified by the brutality we have all been made witness to. I want to feel angry and driven to clear, inspired action. But I have not been able to feel more than deeply saddened and overwhelmed by the cruelty of my country folk. I am frightened not just by the large scale murders, but for the manner of these killings. I am nauseated by the knowledge that people I share citizenship and history with laugh while a human being burns to death. How can a person’s life mean so little just because they are not South African?

In many respects we should not be overly surprised by the events over the weekend that threaten to continue in Gauteng, the province I have grown to love with a difficult passion over the last few years for its unpredictability. Indeed, when unnamed South Africans were attacking people from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and other places in other provinces those of us who are freedom loving should have all acted much quicker and more definitively. We should have done more than express condemnation for xenophobia from our comfortable spaces. We should have been compelled to do more to distance ourselves and to teach those we come into contact with.

But we did not.

We should have been more vocal than we were when it became increasingly widespread to call other Africans “amakwerekwere”. And when the president we voted into power started repeating himself on how there is no crisis of crime in this country, we should have challenged him more loudly. Not in the opportunistic way that many in his party now try to score points with the voting masses. And not in the pointless bemoaning of crime that simply repeats itself either.

As a political sister and comrade of mine pointed out today, what we should have done is to pay attention to the specific forms that crime takes and taken heed. But we did not.

So now, in typical South African fashion, we are condemn what unfolds in our midst, call it criminal (as if that does anything), admit to shock and speak of a third force and other conspiracies. How can we be shocked when there were so many signs that we were headed to this horrible place?

I continue to search for more productive and impactful ways to act this time.