Vavi lays into 'Operation Fiela'

2015-05-16 15:58


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Johannesburg - Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has slammed the state’s “Operation Fiela”, insisting that it feeds public perceptions that migrants are to blame for social ills.

The operation, jointly backed by arms of law enforcement and the South African National Defence Force, was aimed at “cleaning up criminal elements of society” and closely followed a wave of xenophobic violence that gripped the country.

A number of people were killed and thousands were displaced in the violence against African immigrants.

Vavi, speaking at the Yeoville Recreation Centre on Saturday, said that the operation had been ill-conceived.

“Its timing, coming in the wake of the violent attacks targeting in particular people of African origin, feeds into the misconceptions that migrants are to blame for all our social and economic ills. This unprincipled, opportunist and populist Operation Fiela is not ideologically neutral but seeks to pull wool on the eyes of the working class in South Africa,” he said.

“Its intention is to tell the 8.5 million unemployed, the 50% of African women who earn below R2 800 a month, the 60% of the youth that is unemployed, the 50% of workers earning below R3 033 a month, the women that are being raped and other victims of drugs and crime in Manenburg and elsewhere that all of these challenges would have not been there, if it was not the not documented migrants,” Vavi said.

“Xenophobia feeds on perceptions, and one of the commonest is that “foreigners” are taking jobs from South Africans.”

Vavi said that a coalition of thought was needed to address the crisis.

“That is why it is so urgent to develop ways to work together to confront the crisis afflicting our common existence, across borders which, especially in Africa, are not natural boundaries anyway, but artificially imposed creations of colonialism which now act as a barrier to the movement, interaction and unity of our people who have always shared a common history, culture, heritage and destiny.”

Migrant policies

“We need migration policies which will combat and ultimately eradicate xenophobia and racism, but combine them with socio-economic policies to tackle the underlying structural problems which give rise to these evils in the first place: Massive poverty for the majority and massive wealth for the few, with inevitable social tensions and profound crisis and more importantly, the centrality of class struggle.

“This economic crisis is compounded by the continued existence of undemocratic regimes, coups, civil wars and human rights abuses that also force people to migrate to seek refuge elsewhere.

“In Africa, migration policy must be part of a broader, comprehensive development plan for the continent, to reverse the persisting problems of underdevelopment and growing inequalities and human rights violations,” he said.

“We have to fight relentlessly against attempts to shift the blame for poverty and unemployment on our fellow African and Asian workers and make them scapegoats. We must link the dangers of racism and xenophobia to the underlying social crisis and turn people’s anger against their real enemy – the capitalist system of production, distribution and exchange.”

Read more on:    cosatu  |  zwelinzima vavi  |  johannesburg  |  xenophobia  |  crime

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