Abahlali baseMjondolo is opposed to the closure of borders
Sunday, 17 January 2021
Since our movement was formed 15 years ago, we have always opposed all the systems that make and keep people poor. We are in solidarity with all oppressed people regardless of the country or province of their birth, the language they speak, the religion they follow or the color of their skin. Any oppressed person who accepts the principles of abahlalism and the philosophy of ubuhlali is welcomed into our movement and can be elected into any position.
We have always said that a neighbour is a neighbour and a comrade is a comrade without regard to where they were born, what language they speak at home, etc., etc. We have also always noted that someone can be born in the same place as you, speak your language and be your oppressor.
No one in South Africa is poor because their neighbor was born in another province or country. The scarcity of jobs has nothing to do with migrants. We were made poor by colonialism and capitalism, and we are kept poor by the corruption of the African National Congress (ANC) and its alliance with capital. We continue to suffer because of this filthy, bloody capitalism. It will continue to destroy human beings and the world until it is defeated.
Xenophobia is encouraged by elites with the aim of dividing the oppressed and turning us against each other. Both factions of the ANC encourage xenophobia. Now they are using it to distract us from how they have failed to deal with the COVID crisis.
The recent announcement by the president of our country that the borders will be closed is an act of xenophobia. The COVID crisis was not caused by people from Zimbabwe or Mozambique. COVID is in every country in the world. In fact, the situation in South Africa is much worse than in most other African countries.
Anyone can contract the virus from anyone else. A virus knows nothing about borders and nationality. The idea that people are kept safe by borders and walls is the politic of Donald Trump. We will be kept safe by a huge commitment to support public health. There needs to be support for preventive measures like high quality masks, social distancing and sanitizing. Employers need to be forced to keep their workers safe. People who are infected need to receive the best possible medical treatment. The vaccine needs to be rolled out to as many people as possible as soon as is possible.
Instead of supporting the poor through the crisis, the government attacked us. During the first lockdown people were beaten to death by the police and the army. There were regular violent and illegal evictions.
The ANC used to be considered as a liberation movement. Now they disgrace the history of Pan Africanism by embracing colonial borders and harassing, beating, robbing and jailing migrants. The ANC is now a party with many leaders who are thieves who made themselves rich by making others poor. It is also a party with many leaders who have been made rich by their accommodation with capitalism—a system that continues to destroy the world and keep the majority of humanity poor.
The battles in the ANC are battles between oppressors. The party dominates the people. It does not represent them. Removing those who became rich by stealing from the state will not solve our problems. Black capitalists are also oppressors of our people. We have seen workers in Marikana who were asking for a living wage being killed like animals by a government that they have voted into power. During apartheid the life of a Black person was cheap. Today if you are an impoverished Black person your life remains cheap. Before 1994 Black people were landless and millions were living in squalor in shacks. Today we remain landless unless we occupy. When we occupy we are met with bullets and death from a Black government. Many more people live in shacks now than in 1994. People need to ask why these things are still continuing even after we have changed from a white government to a Black government.
In our settlements we live peacefully with our brothers and sisters from different countries. A number of our leaders were born outside of South Africa. This is the spirit of ubuhlali. Ubuhlali leads naturally to Pan Africanism and internationalism.
Patrice Lumumba was assassinated sixty years ago today. Like Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Steve Biko, Chris Hani and many others, Lumumba stood for Pan-Africanism and internationalism. The ANC disgraces this history.
Ramaphosa is the chairperson of the African Union but he is no Pan Africanist. What Pan Africanist would close the borders during a time of crisis? Ramaphosa is an embarrassment to all Africans who have struggled for freedom.
In this time when we are faced with a pandemic, and our continent continues to be robbed by corporations, dominated by the West, and looted and oppressed by corrupt and authoritarian politicians, we reject the nationalists in the ANC. We need to unite as Africans and build a future in which everyone’s dignity is respected and the wealth of our continent is used to build homes, hospitals, parks, cultural spaces, schools and universities worthy of our humanity.
Our humanity cannot be confined to any borders. We must remember that the colonial borders were created to divide us. Nkrumah once said, “I am not an African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me.”
In our movement we continue to maintain that a human being is a human being wherever and whenever they find themselves. We will continue to work with all progressive forces to oppose xenophobia and build solidarity among the oppressed.
It must be made clear that those among the elites who continue to promote xenophobia in the name of the poor do not speak for us. It must be made clear that every xenophobic person, rich or poor, is part of the system of oppression.
Every human life is fragile and precious. Every human life must be counted as a life. On this point there can never be any compromise.
We would also like to express our solidarity with the people of Uganda who, like the people of Zimbabwe, are struggling against a brutal dictator; with the friends, colleagues and comrades of Vusimuzi Cibane, a NUMSA shop steward from KwaNdengezi who recently passed on; and our deepest solidarity with the Zikode, Mkhize and Luvela families in their time of mourning.
Mqapheli Bonono – 073 067 3274
Joyce Majola – 063 181 9997
—Abahlali baseMjondolo, 17 January 2021