ATTENTION: ANC Secretary General Cde Gwede Mantashu
COSATU Secretary General Cde Zwelinzima Vavi
SACP General Secretary Cde Blade Nzimande CC.
ANC President Cde Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
ANC Provincial Chair Western Cape Cde Marius Fransman
ANC Provincial Chair Limpopo Cde Cassel Mathale ANC Regional Chair Capricorn Cde Lawrence Mapuolo
RE: Urgent, open letter calling for ANC to expel councillors and members involved in violence against foriegners
Dear Cde SG Gwede Mantashe, ANC leadership and alliance leaders,
It has come to our attention that an ANC councillor has been implicated in the violence that lead to the brutal murder of a fellow African, from Zimbabwe, in Polokwane. This violence was shortly followed by the displacement of dozens of Zimbabweans. It is extremely concerning to us as, as there should never be any politician involved in violence, particularly xenophobic violence or senseless violence against foreign nationals from any other country, including Zimbabwe and Somalia. Using violence against foreign nationals to gain political support is a huge danger and must be stopped immediately. We must recognize that when politicians take advantage of frustrations between different groups (national, ethnic, racial, tribal etc.) to further political agendas, it has had catastrophic consequences all across the world.
This is not the first time and nor will it be the last time. After the November 2009 displacement of over 2,000 Zimbabweans in De Doorns there were similar allegations against the local Ward Councillor. In the same year Durban ANC councillor Vusi Khoza was arrested for his involvement in a “raid on foreigners” which resulted in the murder of two foreign nationals. During Khoza’s trial Zimbabwean national Eugene Madondo — a survivor of the violence — said Kohza, who was an ANC ward councillor at the time, was a “war general,” and had led the mob and instructed others to throw him out of the window.
This letter aims not to look back but to look forward. We are under no illusions regarding the complexities involved in dealing decisively with the councillors who perpetrate violence against foreigners; it is a sad reality that communities hold the perpetrators of xenophobic violence and violence against foreign nationals in high regard. This latest violence is concerning to us as it occurred so closely to our recent, peaceful, and successful Local Government Elections. We have to ask: did this councillor undertake to “deal harshly” with foreign nationals during his election campaign? Sadly it seems clear that any councillors involved in such violence will not be held to account by their electorate, and thus we believe leaders must ensure quick, strong and fearless intervention.
There can be no room for leniency when dealing with these “grassroots” politicians if they have involved themselves in inexplicable behavior. If we allow for such conduct we could soon find ourselves facing other forms of populist hate crimes and violence in the months and years to come. We must realise that the same prospects for increased popularity can be found through the targeting of homosexuals, other races and tribes. Such cheap politics must be nipped in the bud, before it escalates to uncontrollable levels.
We recognize and welcome the statements by the SACP, the ANC and the speech by the ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe — all of which condemned this recent senseless violence. We also recognize and welcome the efforts by government to run anti-xenophobia campaigns, particularly the establishment of the cabinet task team shortly before the end of the 2010 World Cup. It is our view that the efforts by Minister Nathi Muthethwa and the cabinet task team, supported by the police and SANDF, successfully deterred the rumoured “after world cup” xenophobic violence. The ANC also led by example, holding protests against xenophobia in township communities such as Gugulethu to openly demonstrate that xenophobia is not something the congress supports.
However, unless a politician suffers politically he/she will not be deterred from resorting to such reckless populism in the future. We humbly call upon the ANC to suspend any councillors involved in Polokwane’s senseless violence against foreigners, pending the outcome of investigations. If there is any conclusive evidence we ask that you expel them as soon as possible, as we cannot tolerate this reckless behavior.
We also appeal to the ANC to ensure that all its branches are engaged in Polokwane, not only to hear the members’ concerns, but also to inform them that such behavior will not be accepted by the ANC. Furthermore, we encourage the ANC to ensure that the congress’ newly elected councillors are educated on how to avoid violence, and to understand the ANC’s condemnation of violence against vulnerable groups, including foreign nationals.
Finally, we appeal to the ANC to suspend any and all of its members who are accused of encouraging violence against foreign nationals, and expel them if investigations produce evidence of their complicity.
These loose cannons are tarnishing the image of the ANC and its affiliates. We ask you to intervene immediately, both to preserve the party’s reputation as well as ensure the safety of the foreign nationals living within our borders.