South Africa: Organise against xenophobia – a programme for our communities

Build a country-wide socialist civic movement. Fight for jobs, houses and services for all

Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) leaflet which CWI comrades in WASP are taking into the townships and workplaces. Also read the earlier WASP statement “No to xenophobia! Working class unity for jobs, education and services for all”

Organise against xenophobia – a programme for our communities

Build a country-wide socialist civic movement

Fight for jobs, houses and services for all

Working class and poor communities are angry. They are angry because after twenty years of ANC rule the majority of us still live in poverty. Mass unemployment means many of us cannot get jobs to put bread on the table. Unfortunately, a minority of South Africans think that ‘foreigners’ are to blame and have taken part in xenophobic attacks.

But xenophobic attacks are not the answer to our suffering. Poverty and unemployment are caused by capitalism not by working class and poor foreign residents. It is the capitalist system that stops the South African working class having a share in the wealth of the country. Just the two richest capitalists own as much wealth as the poorest 26 million – they are the ones stealing our opportunities!

The ANC government supports capitalist policies. The ANC government have said that no one under the age of 40 can have an RDP house. The ANC government lower taxes on big business and do not regulate small and informal businesses. The ANC government has still not introduced a minimum wage. The ANC government lets big business make retrenchments. The ANC government control the borders in the interests of the super-rich. The ANC government and its capitalist friends undermine peace, prosperity and democratic rights in the DRC, Somalia and elsewhere on the continent forcing people to leave their homes. Then the ANC government tells South Africans that foreigners ‘take our jobs’! Don’t be fooled by them!

Poor and working class foreign residents are not here because South Africa is a paradise. They are here because they are running from war and economic ruin in their home countries. Like everyone in our communities they are just trying to survive.

But the ANC government has abandoned our communities. Their councillors are often corrupt and useless and they do not help us. The ANC-led civic movement is corrupt and no longer gives us leadership. Housing allocation is unfair and corrupt. The struggle to find jobs is a chaotic free-for-all where brothers and sisters fight each other for a day’s work. Greedy bosses set us against each other so they can pay the lowest wages. But it does not have to be like this!

We must organise

The apartheid regime was overthrown by organising mass struggle upon the principles of non-racialism and non-tribalism with the support of people from across the world. The unity of working class and poor communities must be rebuilt. We must replace the chaos of the ANC government’s capitalist policies with socialist policies. We must begin to plan the economic life of our communities to raise living standards for all. To do that we must build working class solidarity and cooperation between all members of the community whether they are South African residents, foreign residents, ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’. It is not the police or the army, but only organised communities that can stand-up against xenophobia and stop the violence, killing and divisions. This is the answer to xenophobia. This is the answer to poverty and unemployment. We must organise our communities and that means we must unite!

In many communities new civics, crisis committees and community forums have been created. We must work to create them where they do not exist. These structures must link-up to form a new country-wide socialist civic movement. A country-wide civic movement could lead national campaigns for house building and job creation. A country-wide civic movement could coordinate service delivery protests turning them into a mighty national movement to fight for the development of our communities.

Below is a socialist programme that can lead our communities away from the dead-end of xenophobic violence and towards job creation, service delivery and house building. We call on all communities and community structures that support this programme to implement it and join with us in building a country-wide socialist civic.

Organise our communities

• Build democratic, accountable mass community organisations in every community. These organisations must involve ALL residents whether South African or foreign. If foreign residents are to integrate then South Africans must build trust by involving them in the running of the community. Foreign residents must support the struggles of the communities they live in.

• No to corruption. For complete transparency in all aspects of the work of community organisations. Leaders to be accountable and recallable.

• Link-up all community organisations in a country-wide socialist civic.

Create jobs, share out the work fairly

• Country-wide socialist civic to campaign and fight for a fully-enforced national minimum wage, mass job creation programmes so that everyone who wants a job can have one and labour exchanges that can match job vacancies with workers. Campaign and fight for an unemployment social grant.

• Stop greedy bosses using foreign workers to undercut wages! Community organisations and local businesses must agree community-wide minimum wages enforced by community organisations.

• Community organisations must draw up registers of the unemployed, South African and foreign, and their skills. Local businesses, including foreign businesses, must employ a quota of workers from these registers, the number depending on the circumstances of the business. These registers to be regularly inspected by representatives of the community to protect against corruption.

• Community organisations to organise rotas for casual workers, South African and foreign, to ensure all have a fair chance to earn a regular wage.

Business competition

• Country-wide socialist civic to campaign and fight for state supported cooperatives (corporasie) of small farmers and small businesses; a public wholesale goods network to provide cheap bulk supplies; provision of affordable credit to existing small businesses and those wishing to open a small business; price controls and guaranteed markets.

• For equal access to existing business networks, including local South African access to foreign business networks in the townships.

Housing allocation

• Country-wide socialist civic to campaign and fight for a mass house building programme to provide everyone with a decent home with adequate and cheap electricity, water and sanitation; build tar roads to replace every dirt track.

• Housing waiting lists to be under the democratic control of community organisations. Kick out corrupt councillors and gangster building developers! Fair and objective criteria to be used to prioritise housing allocation, including current housing situation, number of dependents and length of time on waiting list. No discrimination on grounds of being foreign; need must determine allocation. Housing waiting lists to be regularly inspected by representatives of the community to protect against corruption.


• Organise to stop xenophobic violence. Whenever the threat of xenophobic violence exists organise protection of foreigners and foreign businesses under the democratic control of community organisations with the mass involvement of the community.

• No to crime and drugs. Campaign and fight for high quality, free, drug rehabilitation programmes for addicts. Organise community-watch programmes under the democratic control of community organisations with the mass participation of the community. Report all drug dealers and other criminals, South African and foreign, to the police and campaign for their removal from the community.

The struggle is political

We can begin to organise our communities on this socialist programme now. We can begin taking steps to organise a country-wide socialist civic now. We can begin preparing coordinated country-wide mass protests to demand a national minimum wage, job creation and house building now.

We must also support the creation of a mass workers party with a socialist programme to fight for political power so that we can create a socialist society where the needs of all will be met.

In the 2016 local elections community organisations must stand candidates against the ANC and the other parties that support capitalism. We must take full control of all decision making in our communities.

Borders and immigration

There is no way to stop immigration. South Africa has a huge land border. If people are desperate they will find a way to come here. The Mediterranean Sea between Africa and Europe is not even a barrier. Over 650 desperate people drowned trying to cross it last week.

We must not support the idea of the ANC government increasing police and army numbers to ‘secure’ the border. This is not possible anyway. The extra police and army will also be used to protect capitalism from our struggles. This happened at Marikana when mineworkers striking for better wages were gunned down. And the ANC’s Gwede Mantashe has already threatened to send the army into the townships in response to xenophobic violence instead of promising to deal with the underlying issues of jobs and poverty.

The ANC government’s immigration policy is designed to help the capitalist class. They allow foreign workers into the country so they can be exploited by capitalists to make bigger profits. Then the ANC government encourages xenophobia amongst South Africans to stop united struggle with our exploited foreign brothers and sisters.

We must campaign for trade unions to organise foreign workers to stop the race to the bottom in wages. We must demand a worker and community commission to overhaul Home Affairs’ immigration system. We must protect the right to asylum and organise foreigners in our communities. If foreigners chose to return to their home countries one day, they must be armed with a socialist programme and our solidarity and support to fight to end the wars, economic ruin and brutal dictatorships that forced them to leave their homes in the first place. We must fight to create socialism across the continent and the world.

We have no trust in the ANC government or the capitalist class! We must fight for a workers government so that the working class can take control of the borders and immigration. This will allow for a humane working class immigration policy. A workers government with socialist policies could plan the integration of foreigners into our communities and remove the competition for jobs, housing and services that leads to tensions and xenophobia when the capitalist class are in charge.

Struggle for a workers’ government. Struggle for socialism.

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April 2015