News & Politics

Leftist South African Leader Calls for Xenophobic Anger to Be Directed at Wealthy Whites

South Africa's new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivers his State of the Nation address in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. (AP Photo/Ruvan Boshoff, File)

There are riots in South Africa as anger against foreign migrants has resulted in five deaths and dozens of arrests. Shops run by foreigners have been looted and burned.

This is a periodic problem in South Africa. Over the years, there have been spasms of violence against Nigerians, Zimbabweans, and other foreigners who have been accused of stealing jobs from native South Africans.

But one leftist politician is urging the rioters to take out their anger and frustration against wealthy whites.

Newsweek:

At least five people have been killed in the unrest, with dozens arrested in Johannesburg—the country’s largest city. South African Police have used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to try and disperse angry crowds.

But the leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party—Julius Malema—said that while the anger was legitimate, it was not focused on the right target.

“Our anger is directed at wrong people,” Malema wrote on Twitter. “Like all of us, our African brothers & sisters are selling their cheap labour for survival. The owners of our wealth is white monopoly capital; they are refusing to share it with us & the ruling party #ANC protects them.”

Not sure that the message got through to the right people, Malema upped the ante:

Malema later followed up with a second tweet, suggesting “these whites must for a second keep quiet because we are dealing with a mess created by them. They are the ones who created this situation by telling us that we are poor & unemployed because ‘foreigners’ took our jobs. We are fighting for cramps.”

Malema once belonged to the dominant African National Congress party, which has won every general election in post-apartheid South Africa. Malema was the party’s Youth League president until he was expelled in 2012 for his divisive rhetoric.

That rhetoric is familiar to whites in South Africa.

But despite 25 years of democracy, this racialized economic inequality remains. “The term ‘white capital’ refers to this reality,” Friedman explained, “that blacks might control politics but whites still dominate the economy. This reality is exploited by some politicians and is clearly not a reason to threaten violence. But it is the reality which is divisive, not the fact that people draw attention to it.”

Most mainstream ANC politicians have condemned Malena’s remarks, including President Cryil Ramaphosa who has strongly stood against the attacks on foreigners.

The only way to change the “reality” is by outright confiscation of land and wealth. That’s it. You can do it hard and fast as Zimbabwe did in the 1980s — resulting in a slaughter of whites — or gradually, as has been suggested by many in the ANC. Any way you look at it, it’s government theft on a massive scale. If you prefer to claim that the theft is being done for a good cause, that’s fine. But when land belonging to 10 generations of Afrikaners is snatched away, it’s hard not question the morality of it.

Either way, it won’t solve the “reality” of economic inequality. That’s something that requires generations of building up an infrastructure that supports the education and training of the poverty stricken population. The alternative is to just burn it all down and start over.

Perhaps that’s what Malema has in mind.