Julius Malema did not mince his words this weekend, the Economic Freedom Fighters will not be welcoming votes from xenophobic South Africans. The firebrand leader reiterated his calls for African unity and the disdain of colonial boundaries that are the root for a “divide and rule" policy.
Over the last week, South Africa descended into chaos as xenophobic attacks erupted in Durban. Many have refused to just term the recent attacks as xenophobic, but rather as Afrophobic as they were specifically targeted at African nationals not at white or Chines foreigners, but specifically African nationals.
"If you say you are not going to vote for EFF because we say you must love Africans, you can keep your vote. We don’t want votes from people who are xenophobic.... Without the unity of Africa we will be exploited forever, by Europe, by America and now by China."
A leader can never be as explicit as Malema was. It is sad that a few days before the attacks, Cyril Ramaphosa was caught on camera speaking ill of foreigners. We could claim we are past that episode and we should not play the blame game. However, it is the lack of a strong reaction from him in the wake of the attacks that is sickening. Instead of going live o national radio and television as he did when he made the “reckless” statements, he used Twitter to denounce his statements. It will obviously not have the same effect and reach as his statements had.
Julius Malema is undoubtedly the future South Africa and Africa at large needs. Most of the leaders we have are out there seeking votes through hook and crook. Principles do not exist in their political language. To hear a leader put principles before votes a rarity in our political circles.
What were once liberation movements have turned into the new oppressors and have lost sight of the principles that were the North Star of the fight against colonialism. Instead, they have found themselves as alienated as our oppressors once were. They worry and stress more about foreign capital than about the welfare of their people. They champion policies that were created to keep our kind under the dependence of a master and not to freely think for ourselves.
The kind of alienation that South Africa is suffering from is likely to also emerge in Rwanda as they continue getting praise for their development. The pride has already begun to emerge, you need not look further than the border dispute with Uganda. It is sad that Paul Kagame, the current AU chairman has been at the forefront of the madness. This is a man charged with leading the continent but is failing to make peace with his neighbour.
How can the police fail to react in time to these attacks in arguably the richest country in the continent? Zimbabwean police have a better response to protests on their street than what we saw in South Africa. The best thing the police could do is house the “refugees” in their stations than provide enough security for the foreigners and make them feel safe. South Africa is either a joke of a country or its leaders lack the will to take decisive action.
It is through unity that Africa managed to achieve independence at the rate at which it did. No one struggle was ever alienated from the other. You had leaders of the Frontline States organising and assisting the struggle of fellow countries. This is the concept which is clear to men such as Malema. You can not build a nation in isolation, it requires a united effort to take this continent forward.
The struggle is not completely over until economic independence is achieved. The struggle can also not be fought when men are enemies with their own brothers. There is famous Igbo proverb that says, “When two brothers fight against each other, a stranger will have their father’s inheritance.”