Photo: African News Agency (ANA)
In South Africa, the month of March is recognised as Human Rights Month. March 21 of each year is celebrated as a public holiday (Human Rights Day) to commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960.

This day is also distinct in celebrating the human rights recognised in the Constitution that took effect for all in South Africa following the 1994 democratic elections.

On May 8, South Africans will exercise their right to vote in electing the political leader/s they believe carry hope for a better South Africa, dignity and justice for all.

Politicians, through their political parties’ mandates, are canvassing and electioneering for votes.

In the past few weeks and months, the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants South Africa (CoRMSA) are concerned that politicians are scapegoating migrants to mask failures to deliver and implement policies.

The xenophobic rhetoric is barbaric. Electioneering statements and comments from political leaders are directed to foreign nationals, blaming them for collapsing public services such as health, education and housing.

Failure to deliver critical basic services to all in South Africa cannot be blamed on foreign nationals just to win votes from poor voters.

The rhetoric of electioneering statements and false comments fuel xenophobia and divisions in communities, with voters believing that poor service delivery is caused by the presence of foreign nationals in their communities.

We call on the media to be critical of what leaders say. Instead of just reporting false unsubstantiated statements, politicians need to account for corruption, self-indulgence, greediness and a dismal effort to effectively implement policies. This is the real cause of the poor service delivery.

CoRMSA calls for an end to electioneering that is at the expense of vulnerable groups of people (foreign nationals) and to respect the human rights for all who live in South Africa.

CoRMSA calls for politicians to speak about measures they will be taking to ensure that the Bill of Rights is a living document that is respected and informs policy formulation and implementation.

Respect for human rights and human dignity is enshrined in our Constitution for everyone, including asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who live in the republic, without prejudice based on nationality, race, gender or religion.

Politicians should focus on challenging and addressing xenophobia and discrimination in communities rather than fuelling such social ills just to win votes. Deliver on your Constitutional mandate.

CoRMSA further calls on the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to monitor the behaviour and public statements of political leaders to make sure that the behaviour is within the IEC Code of Conduct of not promoting hate speech, fuelling violence and statements which are discriminatory in nature.

There have to be consequences for such infringements. CoRMSA also calls upon the South African Human Rights Commission to make sure that political statements are free from xenophobia and racism. Such statements only create a space where violence flourishes.

Abigail Dawson

Communications and media officer

Consortium for Refugees and Migrants South Africa