SA suffering from four crises - Vavi

2015-04-20 17:38
Cosatu's dismissed general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi during a News24Live studio interview.

Cosatu's dismissed general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi during a News24Live studio interview.

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Johannesburg - Xenophobia was symptomatic of several crises South Africa was suffering from, expelled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Thursday's People's March Against Xenophobia in Johannesburg, Vavi said a report where he said the xenophobic attacks in South Africa could have been prevented if millions had not been spent on President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead, was not accurate.

"I do not write the headlines of newspapers. The newspaper, the Citizen, wrote that Vavi blames Nkandla for xenophobia," he said.

"No, that is not a reflection of my [speech] that I was making yesterday [Sunday]."

He said crime was an expression of a social and economic crisis facing society, with violence, racism and xenophobia being expressions of fear, insecurity and hopelessness.

"There are four crises facing SA today, which we have summed up in the previous period... to say they represent a ticking time bomb," he said.

The biggest crisis was unemployment, where a country with an employment rate of 35% should see itself as being in a state of emergency, according to Vavi.

"Sixty percent of our children are unemployed," Vavi said, stating that among middle-income countries, South Africa was in the worst position when it came to employment.

"We don't want to call it a challenge, it's a catastrophe," he said.

"The second crisis is poverty."

If you have around 12 million people, out of 53 to 54 million, sleeping in a place where they were unable to put food on the table, then you are facing a crisis.

"The third is we are the most unequal society in the world today... after 21 years [of democracy] we are now occupying a very unfamiliar position of number one... We don't call it a challenge, we call it a crisis," he said.

"The fourth is a crisis of corruption - the unashamed stealing from the poor by the elite.

'Don't moan, mobilise'

"Nkandla is an epitome, a manifestation, a tip of the iceberg of that looting in our society. It's not the only one, it's just one example that is so glaring in our face because it represents that statesmen spitting in the face of our people struggling for a better life."

He said that through the slogan "don't moan, mobilise", he was referring to the broader problem in South African society where we were beginning to lose hope.

Earlier, SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) deputy chairperson Pregs Govender said the commission was in full support of Thursday's march, with the organisers aiming for as large an attendance as possible.

"Xenophobia has to stop and it cannot be in any of our names," she said.

"Except for the right to vote, every other right applies to those living in our country."

She said that if the government acted on the commission's report into issues of the rule of law, justice and impunity arising out of the xenophobic violence that occurred in 2008, it was likely there would be less violence today.

"If those reports were given effect to, there would be significantly less xenophobic incidents in our country. Those perpetrating criminal acts, the police need to arrest them and the criminal justice system needs to [take effect]," she said.

"The commission is currently having a meeting with the [Zulu] King [Goodwill Zwelithini] in KwaZulu-Natal and attending the imbizo because the commission is investigating several complaints against the king, as well as several complaints against xenophobic attacks around the country."

She said political leadership needed to understand the impact of their words and actions on those on the streets, who were being targeted.

"The king has to disassociate himself [from what] people have said have resulted from his words. The commission is asking that he addresses the public to confirm that these deplorable actions are being undertaken not in his name," Govender said.

"We are calling for the unity of people across our country."

At the University of Johannesburg (UJ), prior to the beginning of the varsity's march against xenophobia, Vice Chancellor Professor Ihron Rensburg told a packed auditorium at its Kingsway campus that while South Africans said they were part of the African continent, that connection was only skin deep.

"The problem is 1994 came... on the one hand we pronounced ourselves as part of Africa," he said.

"For, evidently, our reintegration into our continent... has been superficial and skin deep. So let our conversation begin urgently about what it means to be African, rather than in a xenophobic and implicitly arrogant nationalism."

He said recent utterances are an example of this arrogance.

In Durban on Monday, Zwelithini said it was important for him to hold an urgent imbizo following the spate of attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal last week.

He said he made the decision to call the imbizo after meeting with Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and State Security Minister David Mahlobo.

"It was important for me to intervene because this was a crisis," he told a crowd at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Zwelithini said in the past 44 years as king he had learnt a lot about respecting elders.

"If you want to be respected one day as a leader, you need to learn to be a good listener.

"I am speaking today as your father. I want to thank Amakhosi and Izinduna for coming out at such short notice."

Genocide

The king said the last two months reminded him of the Rwandan genocide.

"This was the worst massacre in history... It showed the role played by the media and the political leaders in the killing.

"In 2015, we woke up to the news of the Kenyan killings. We are heartbroken as the Zulu monarch. It was reported that 147 people were killed.

"To bring it back home, we know that foreign nationals have been displaced in the last three weeks," he said.

"What's shameful is that this is not the first time," he said referring to the xenophobia attacks in 2008.

Pongola speech

"The violence is said to have emanated from the speech I delivered in Pongola.

"People who were in Pongola have not killed anyone and nor is Pongola on fire today. I believe what I said in Pongola needed no translation," he said.

Zwelithini said the SAHRC needed to be given time to conduct its investigation thoroughly and without intimidation.

"I've written two letters to the commission and have urged them to also investigate the media's involvement in inciting violence.

"I believe that the media must open itself up to being investigated if they have nothing to hide.

"My speech in Pongola was addressed to the crime issues facing the country. Instead the nation has been told that I have said otherwise. This is funny. Even today, I'm still asking the media to write my entire speech. I want the media to write the entire speech from that day," he said.

Zwelithini said the imbizo was not called because he had sparked the attacks, but because he knew that South Africa could beat this.

He said he was pleased that government had agreed with him that there was a "third force" that the country was trying to fight.

"It's not a secret that there are some people using the King's name."

Read more on:    king goodwill zwelethini  |  zwelenzima vavi  |  durban  |  xenophobia

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