Dr. Blade Nzimande says African leaders to get their countries in order by making their countries better place to live in. Picture: Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - In light of recent attacks on foreign nationals South African Communist Party (SACP) General Secretary Dr. Blade Nzimande says African leaders to get their countries in order by making their countries better place to live in and stop blaming South Africa because South Africans were not xenophobic. 

Nzimande was addressing delegates of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (SACTWU) at its 14th National Congress currently underway in Durban.

He said that unlike prior to 1994, labour from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries was no longer confined to mining hostels but was now occupying the same informal settlements that are occupied by largely unemployed South Africans.

“The rest of the SADC region has always been a recruiting ground for labour, especially for South Africa’s mining industry, but prior to 1994 that labour was largely confined in the hostels of the mining companies in various parts of our country. 

“Today that labour from SADC is no longer occupying the mining hostels but is sharing the very same informal settlements as South Africa’s workers. Once you do that you are setting the poor against the poor. This thing that South Africans are xenophobic is not true. South Africa’s working class has long been staying together with workers from outside South Africa,” said Nzimande.

He said that the issue was that once the poor were drawn into the territory of other poor it was akin to lighting a powder keg. He said that this was worsened by employers who preferred to employ the more vulnerable, cheap labour, from the region especially the undocumented migrants.

Lashing out at leaders from the continent, Nzimande said: "We cannot absorb the results of all the problems that are made by leaders who want to loot their countries, who do not care about their own people. So you can’t just blame South Africa, we are doing our best, but it’s time we asked those leaders on our continent to say ‘What are you doing to make your countries better places to live in?’” 

He said although foreign nationals should not be attacked, part of the problem was instability that led to South Africa having to absorb what it is not able to absorb and also said that presidents of African countries should refrain from blaming South Africans while not looking at themselves on what is happening in their countries.

“But all these issues won’t be solved because some of them won’t be able to solve their problems, that’s why we need working class solidarity in the African continent. So when you talk about our continent we are also talking about the need of working class solidarity in Africa and the building of the trade union movement,” said Nzimande.

He added that in many of South Africa’s sister countries in Africa trade unions were being chased away because they were being regarded as the enemy and that this why it was important for South Africa to use its advantage to support the building of a progressive trade union movement in various parts of the continent. 

Political Bureau