Renowned Zimbabwean investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono says South Africans were not born hating foreign nationals, but were brainwashed to believe so by politicians.
“South Africans were not born hating foreign nationals, like racism, they were taught to hate and to believe that all their problems were authored by African foreign nationals, both legal and illegal immigrants,” he says.
Chin’ono adds that apartheid was a business system run by politicians and business people who benefited from migrant labour, which is usually cheap.
“Apartheid was a racist business model run by politicians and businesspeople, today’s South Africa is also run by one of the richest businesspeople in Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, whose many businesses have benefited from migrant labour.
“Today’s illegal immigration crisis is driven by old factors of cheap labour on the part of South African businesses, and it is accentuated by new political players, the failed regional ruling parties like ZANUPF,” he says.
Watching Dimakatso Makoena saying that “I Hate Foreigners” with such raw emotion and painfully crying in this attached BBC documentary film makes you realise how evil and manipulative failed politicians can be towards unsuspecting citizens who are victims of their failures.
South Africa has an immigration crisis that can’t be wished away, but it is also a complex problem that can’t be explained in simplistic terms as many try to do, especially the authors of the crisis, politicians.
South Africans were not born hating foreign nationals, like racism, they were taught to hate and to believe that all their problems were authored by African foreign nationals, both legal and illegal immigrants.
The explanation for every political and economic failure in South Africa is now on foreigners, even someone who can’t get an erection at home will soon probably blame foreigners too.
It is true that South Africa has attracted more foreigners than any other country on the continent because of its historic successful and big economy, and how the apartheid economic architecture attracted cheap migrant labour from surrounding countries to maximise on its profits.
Apartheid was a racist business model run by politicians and businesspeople, today’s South Africa is also run by one of the richest businesspeople in Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, whose many businesses have benefited from migrant labour.
Unlike in the past where mass immigration was triggered mainly by weak economies coming out of colonial rule that surrounded the apartheid regime, the bulk of illegal immigration today is now triggered by failed economies around South Africa particularly Zimbabwe, which has failed due to grand incompetence and political repressive corrupt rule.
Why is it like this, and who is responsible for this immigration crisis, and how can this be changed to bring a healthy balance of immigration/migration which is not only one way?
This has been caused by a dead economy in Zimbabwe which was killed by corrupt rule and the plunder of that country’s natural resources.
Zimbabweans used to find work in Zimbabwe and had working public services like hospitals after that country’s independence in 1980, and only went to South Africa to buy things to come and sell back home, it was business from top to bottom.
Of course, as I said earlier, there was an earlier flow of migrants from Zimbabwe and other African countries during the colonial days of the famed WNLA which stood for Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WNLA), more popularly known as WENELA.
It was set up by the gold mines in South Africa as a recruiting agency for migrant workers.
Before that people were always moving around the region looking for better pastures and a better standard of living, Africa was a village.
That is how you ended up with the Ray Phiris, Hugh Masekelas (whose real surname was Munyepawu from Zimbabwe) and Herman Mashabas of this world.
Their parents, grandparents and great grand parents came to South Africa to seek better lives and also to seek work mostly in mines after the nineteenth century, they were born in South Africa to migrant workers or children of migrant workers.
Today’s illegal immigration crisis is driven by old factors of cheap labour on the part of South African businesses, and it is accentuated by new political players, the failed regional ruling parties like ZANUPF.
In normal countries this is easily resolved by an election where the citizens can choose a different government and remove the crooks and incompetent parties from power.
But Zimbabwe is not normal, it has a ruling party which came into power with its own military wings, ZANLA/ZIPRA which became the national army.
Elections are routinely rigged, and citizens beaten to pulp or killed for resisting the failed political and economic status quo which is anchored by corruption and incompetence.
The only organization that can stop this is SADC, which is a regional grouping of 16 countries with election protocols that all member states must follow and adhere to.
However, ZANUPF has been able to repeatedly violate these protocols for 23 years with the support of South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress.
ANC is powerful because it runs the most diverse and sophisticated economy on the African continent, so what it says in SADC matters, and what it doesn’t say matters too.
Recently the ANC endorsed the shambolic Zimbabwean elections as democratic, ignoring the mountain of evidence to the contrary.
It called the Zimbabwean opposition leader a puppet of the West, and it said it will support ZANUPF regardless.
Indirectly it called the millions that voted for the opposition puppets of the West too, what motivates the ANC to say such scurrilous stuff if not bungs?
So, the ANC literally endorses the causes and drivers of illegal immigration in South Africa, possibly for corrupt reasons, yet when back home it insults Zimbabweans asking them to leave South Africa and go back to Zimbabwe.
The ANC is also riding on the xenophobic/anti-foreign nationals’ campaign as seen recently when South Africa’s Minister for Police, Bheki Cele took to the highways to personally inspect public transport and remove Zimbabweans without proof on residence on them.
This of course is done for politicking reasons, it is an empty explanation to why the economy in South Africa has terribly tanked.
ZANUPF blames sanctions for all its failures with the help of Ramaphosa who trumpets the sanctions propaganda everywhere he goes, yet he knows that Zimbabwe has failed due to corrupt rule, incompetence and economic mismanagement.
The ANC has now joined the scapegoating bandwagon of blaming foreigners for its failures to govern.
It surreptitiously supports Dudula, which is a vigilante group agitating for foreign nationals to leave South Africa regardless of whether they are legal or illegal using the lie that South Africa has collapsed economically due to foreign nationals.
Citizens are easy to deceive especially in poor townships, but why are they easily deceived.
It is however true that illegal foreign nationals access social and health delivery services in South Africa, creating flash points with locals who complain that they are squeezed out because of the competitive unbudgeted use of public services by illegal foreign nationals.
Seventy-five percent of women who give birth at Musina hospital in South Africa’s Limpopo province are Zimbabwean according to the South African Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
This is because Zimbabwe’s biggest hospital only has one working maternity theatre built in 1977 by Ian Smith’s colonial government.
2500 Zimbabwean woman die every year giving birth and as a result, many run away to South Africa to avoid dying when giving birth.
This could be easily fixed because a maternity theatre costs only US$37,000 (R666,000) to build, but the Zimbabwean government has failed to do this for its citizens.
In a normal society, and in normal times, you simply vote out such an uncaring government, but Zimbabweans have repeatedly tried to do so, but failed due to repression and the failure by SADC to force Zimbabwe to adhere to its constitutional commitments and regional election protocols.
The ZANUPF regime has also been repeatedly supported by the ANC and the South African Government on many times to evade this SADC scrutiny as has happened in the recently held shambolic and rigged election, where citizens spent more than 12 hours waiting for ballot papers in opposition strongholds which were 5 minutes away from the election commission offices.
It means that South Africa will receive more undocumented Zimbabweans looking for health and social services, and more importantly looking for jobs.
South African ANC elites don’t care about this because they don’t use public hospitals, and they don’t live in the townships where there is a shortage of public service amenities.
They only care when it is election time, they only care for votes.
As South Africa heads towards the 2024 general election, spare a thought for immigrants regardless of whether they are legal or not, particularly African foreign nationals because they will be scapegoated by both the ruling ANC party, and the many fringe one-issue parties that have all congregated around the immigration issue for easy pickings of votes.
Immigration is a real crisis in South Africa that has ceased to be a foreign policy issue anymore, it is now a domestic policy issue because it now has the real potential of stopping the ANC from crossing the fifty percent mark in the 2024 elections, forcing the possibility of a coalition government of sorts not out of choice, but out of necessity, a first since 1994.
I said the immigration crisis is complex, it has created social pressures in poor communities, but it is not the reason why the South African economy has tanked.
Illegal immigration can be fixed by allowing citizens to have free, fair and credible elections particularly in Zimbabwe so that they don’t flock into South Africa, but how can this be possible when the ANC sanitises stolen and shambolic elections?
Nobody wants to leave their own home to go to a place where they are not wanted, but they do it because at times it is the difference between living and death.
Both South Africa and Zimbabwe require leadership scrutiny, the leaders on both sides of Limpopo are responsible for the immigration crisis, yet it is the poor people that batter each other whilst the politicians are locked away in their mansions.
Something must give, the citizens must wake up to the realities of corrupt and incompetent rule and not allow scapegoating to be used as a deceptive tool to explain failed governance.
Sadly, it might be too late for 2024, but perhaps the 2024 election result might force the ANC to have a change of heart and for once do the right thing on the Zimbabwe political crisis that has staggered on since 2023.