A CCJP media statement in total condemnation of the resurgence of the xenophobic attacks of immigrants in South Africa
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi is a social justice and advocacy arm of the Catholic Church in Malawi that is committed to bring about the reign of the Kingdom God in which justice and peace, respect for human dignity, upholding the sanctity of human life and human equality prevail.
The Justice and Peace Commission is saddened and shocked by the resurgence of xenophobic attacks in different parts of South Africa aimed at killing foreign nationals from different countries of origins. We categorically state that this is criminal and retrogressive to the civilization that the global village is promising in this era. Those South Africans perpetrating this hatred and the killings must stop these belligerent actions and remember the oneness of humanity enshrined in the Ubuntu philosophy that their own son, Archbishop Desmond Tutu preaches. South Africa, especially her leadership, must remember their history and the original vision and values of their forefathers who fought against the apartheid regime that pitied whites against blacks.
2.0. Some critical facts to note
- South Africa has been the hub of socio-economic development in the SADC region from time immemorial. This economic development must not be seen in isolation of the human resource that was hired from most Southern African countries to work in the mines in South Africa. Whilst South Africa had natural resources, it needed additional human resource from other countries to exploit and commercialize these natural resources. This means most Southern African countries have contributed to the socio-economic development of South Africa, giving South Africa a moral responsibility to share the economic benefits.
- During the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa, most black fighters got support from a number of southern African countries. Their operations were launched and planned in most of the southern African countries. The cooperation and the inter-dependence of southern African countries cannot be over-emphasized nor can they be easily dismissed.
- Currently, southern African companies are largely investing in southern Africa in so doing exporting South African products into most southern African countries. In essence, South Africa is, trade and economic wise, “neo-colonizing” southern Africa. As such most southern African countries are a market for southern African products. Such economic linkages cannot be wished away or cannot be overlooked.
- In a specific case of Malawi, most of our strong men from the late 70s worked under the Employment Bureau of Africa (THEBA) till the late 90s doing the most burdensome work in the mines. They spent most of their productive ages in the mines. Some have even died and lost limbs while working in the mines. The contribution of all these Malawians is immeasurable and cannot be paid back by lynching and killing their sons and grandsons who trek to South Africa to earn a living by working and not loitering around.
3.0. Our worries
- The resurgence of the xenophobic attacks of foreign nationals in South Africa is becoming trendy. Their seemingly arousal from some political and traditional leaders in South Africa is very disturbing and worrisome when we consider the points raised above.
- The emergence of local black leaders in South Africa that would rather call for violence and extremism instead of dialogue and regional cohesion is a markedly departure from the southern African forefathers spirit of collaboration, inter-dependence and support. We are worried that this might have far reaching negative consequences in the region in areas of economy, security and peace.
- The xenophobic attacks might, in our considered view, create among other southern African countries citizens, a spirit of retribution in so doing creating a chaotic southern Africa that will not know peace.
- We are further worried that, there could be genuine developments in south Africa where the citizens feel they are left out on the socio-economic development path, yet with their xenophobic actions and reactions, neighboring countries might not see the critical challenge that south Africans are facing. In so doing, missing out an important opportunity to address the challenge through proper policy dialogue in various governance institutions in-country or in the SADC regional bodies.
4.0. Our position
CCJP is categorically and unambiguously condemning the resurgence of xenophobic attacks of foreign nationals in South Africa. Whilst acknowledging some emerging rhetoric towards halting these attacks, CCJP is calling for South African leadership at different levels to take up moral responsibility and stop these attacks. Whilst the attacks may satisfy some eschewed views about the sources of South Africans suffering, the attacks are not and shall never be a solution to the economic malaise in South Africa. An honest reflection and discussion both at national and international levels is needed to arrive at a best solution to the wretchedness of some South Africans. The economic inequality must not be seen from the lenses of foreign nationals as there are more internal factors and more perennial reasons than what is currently being popularized.
4.0. Our appeal
4.1. To the South African government.
The attacks of foreign nationals imply a social problem in the country. You should not pay a blind eye to this problem. Time has come to discuss this and create a just and peaceful South African society. Let parliament and other governance structures choose to deal with this for proper solutions. We implore you to categorically stop some of your local political and traditional leaders that are inciting public anger that is differed on foreign nationals instead of squarely looking at the economic disparities that have always existed in your country despite being one of the naturally endowed countries with precious natural resources.
4.2. To the South African citizens
Experiencing poverty in a midst of plenty is a painful reality. Your Government has the obligation to create conditions that enable its citizens to live in dignity. However, killing innocent foreign nationals is not a solution. No leader should mislead you that foreign nationals are the source of your suffering. You need to go beyond and reflect upon the man made systems and structures of exploitation, poverty, and marginalization and tackle these before being misled that this suffering is caused by few foreign nationals. Remember, we in southern Africa, we have always lived together, worked together, suffered together. This oneness and solidarity is our vital source for peace and security the preconditions for our regional socio-economic development.
4.3. To the Malawian citizens in South Africa
You are certainly encountering rejection and prejudice. However, be assured that our government is executing a rescuing program. Your brothers and sisters in Malawi care for your security. Come back home for your life is precious no matter how poor you are. After all, there is more that can be done in Malawi. As you coming back home, please do not hold any anger and spirit of vengeance to any South Africans or any of their property. Retribution and vengeance are not a solution. Only love will heal our wounds and bring about justice and peace.
4.4. To Malawi government
Whilst CCJP acknowledges your efforts towards the plight of Malawian citizens affected by the xenophobia attacks in South Africa; it is high time you bring together different stakeholders to reflect upon the occurrences in South Africa. We need a stoke taking process to identify the challenges in our country, the reasons for the push factor to South Africa of our country’s youth, and discuss the solutions that must be implemented by relevant stakeholders and authorities- the ministries and departments of Immigration, Police, Socio-Economic Planning, Labour, the private sector and the Nongovernmental Organizations. Government cannot go on to put emergency repatriation plans and leave out the mundane causes and consequences of the issue at hand. This recent experience calls for an immediate national dialogue.
4.5. To the CSOs and Opinion Leaders Organizing Demonstrations
CCJP is in solidarity with your plans and intentions. Expressing our dismay with the xenophobic attacks is very important. As we plan, let us remember that peaceful demonstrations and non-violent citizen’s expression of their frustrations are only the genuine means of making those in decision making positions to listen. As we are encouraging the general public to participate in the demonstrations, let us, as leaders, ensure that there should not be any differed anger that might destroy property and life of South Africans living in Malawi. Though our people are being killed, retribution through demonstrations will not bring about desired changes needed in our relationships with South Africans.
The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), in conclusion, believes these xenophobic attacks can end and they must end now. Dialogue and not killing can provide solutions for many political and socio-economic challenges South Africans face today. In this Southern Africa region, we have respected, supported, protected and defended each other from so many negatives forces that militated against our humanity. Together as one we can sustain this regional strength. But we can only do so when we take away the hatred, the violence, the differed anger and face the reality. CCJP says no to xenophobia!!.
Signed by: Chris Chisoni, National Secretary, 19th April 2015