#PutSouthAfricansFirst dangerously fuelling xenophobia, warns Human Rights Watch

#PutSouthAfricansFirst dangerously fuelling xenophobia, warns Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch has joined the debate on the #PutSouthAfricansFirst Movement. The movement is made up of different organisations that believe that foreigners contribute to South Africa’s social ills like drugs, human trafficking and child kidnappings. They accuse immigrants of taking jobs that should be occupied by locals.

The Human Rights Watch says while their idea of being put first is noble, it is dangerously fuelling xenophobia.

Speaking on VOW FM’s Breaking Ground programme, South African Director at Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga, said in principle – it is important to have people desiring to see citizens’ rights being advanced. “The problem is when you look at the context in South Africa, in terms of  the xenophobia in the past, the complete disregard of the right of non-nationals or migrants, disregard for the Constitution or South Africa and the disregard for the value of human life, “ says Mavhinga. 

Members of the Put South Africans First Movement marched to the Gauteng Premier’s office in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Friday. Among their demands was for government to evict foreign nationals from the city. They claim the migrants occupy the most space in South Africa’s economic hub and the first step towards fixing this would be to deport them back to their native land.

However, Mavhinga believes there is another way of getting the country right. “It is not true that Johannesburg is occupied by 90 or 95% by migrants.  These are false stats to scapegoat the nationals. There is a way in which South Africans can have a win-win situation in which it can ensure that the rights of non-nationals are protected but at the same time fully advancing the cause of economic development and supporting citizens because those nationals in South Africa with the rights to work contribute meaningfully to the South African economy,” he says.

“South Africa should also not forget where it comes from, from the apartheid era when it was also helped to be where it is today and if it seeks to be an island, things should be done in the right way,” he concluded.

South Africa needs healing

Voice It In Action (VIIA) is part of the organisations that are behind the call for government to put the interests of South Africans before those of migrants.

The President of the organisation, Kgothatso Moloto, believes this will ensure that the locals get the jobs, services and dignity they deserve, which he says, will help the nation heal from the trauma of apartheid.

Moloto spoke to Breaking Ground ahead of their march to the Gauteng Premier’s office on Friday – to reclaim the city of Johannesburg. They urged the Premier to enforce the law so that South Africans can inhabit the city.

“80-95% of our city is occupied by the foreign nationals, most of the services of the country that are good are happening in the CBD so the reality is most South Africans that need services will not get them.  Access to work, education, health and decent housing they will not get any of this. When reclaiming South Africa we are saying put South Africans first in all these spaces especially in our cities where the heart of the economic hub of South Africa is,” said Moloto.

Moloto believes that the country can start developing if South Africans are put first in all opportunities.

“South Africa is under developing, 20 years down the line when looking at townships; they rent any different from the apartheid era, this is all because there are no resources that are going into these communities through strategic modes coming in into the country. South Africans are not getting the best yet the migrants are getting the best before the South Africans, which is also highly unfair. We are claiming South Africa so that she can be at the place where she has to be at right now with Africa and her people,” adds Moloto.

Moloto says the pain caused by apartheid still haunts many South Africans and the wounds are still fresh.

“South Africa and her people come from a very difficult time from the apartheid time, the effect from then is still felt even today, so South Africa needs to heal from a lot of things. Now a new challenge has been presented by not putting South Africans first, these spams across various departmental requirements from the South African government and to South Africa and her people from interment opportunities, educational opportunities, hospitals and public services even the RDPs thus this causes an imbalance to the country on its own,” he says. – Report by Mmangaliso Khumalo

There shall be no peace in SA as long as foreigners are here, vows PutSouth AfricansFirst leader

There shall be no peace in SA as long as foreigners are here, vows PutSouth AfricansFirst leader

#PutSouthAfricansFirst Movement is making waves in South Africa. The group of activists are calling for government to put the needs of South Africans ahead of foreign nationals.

As part of their rolling mass action, on Friday they marched to the Gauteng Premier’s office to vent their frustration.

#PutSouthAfricansFirst Movement’s National Chairperson, Victoria Mamogobo, says the nationwide protests that South Africa has seen is a sign that the government is oblivious to the reality in the country.

Mamogobo was speaking outside Premier David Makhura’s office, where the various organisations under the #PutSouthAfrucansFirst banner, marched to submit a memorandum.

They called for a safer, cleaner and sustainable community.

The group says the South African government should deport all foreign nationals who have been in the country since 1994.

“It is unfortunate that we have to fight hard to force the government that we elected in power to represent us; we have to twist their arms using force in order for them to listen,” Mamogobo says.

“What kind of government is this that fails to protect its citizens and our country? What kind of government is this that doesn’t want to build a strong wall to protect its citizens?” she asks.

Mamogobo says migrants who have been neutralised should not be spared.

“They must go back home to fix their countries and fight their governments. Those who have a problem with this request are welcome to leave with foreigners. When they leave, because they will leave our country whether they like it or not, there shall not be peace in the Republic, for as long as foreigners are here,” says Mamogobo.

South African First (SAF) political party is among the organisations that are part of the #PutSouthAfricansFirst Movement.

Party president, Mario Khumalo, says he honoured the invitation to join the march because it is based on the national interest. Khumalo wants only the undocumented immigrants to be sent back to their countries of origin.

“The current situation in the country is very shaky, the level of unemployment in the country and a number of undocumented foreigners in this country. Our message is very clear. We need to have strict border regulations undocumented immigrants need to go back to their country; they have no legal bases to be here, with drugs young girls are getting prostituted by the very same people who come to the country undocumented we don’t know who this people are so we need to put the interests of South African citizens first,” says Khumalo.

He says the migrants have nothing to contribute to the South African economy.

“99% of the immigrants who are in South Africa are not even supposed to be here. They have illegal documents so how are they contributing to the economy.”

 “How can they contribute to the economy of this country selling sweets on the streets? How are they paying tax? The only people who will add contribution to South Africa is people with scared skills, poor people should not come here. We already have poor people in South Africa,” says Khumalo.

Voice It In Action (VIIA) President Kgothatso Moloto was also part of the march. He says they are hoping that the government will put in the work to enforce the laws and avoid unnecessary violence.

“The government has neglected proper implementation of immigration laws, so we are here to request that the government start putting in the work to ensure that laws are enforced. When laws are not enforced, this create unnecessary violence and hatred, that should be stopped we shouldn’t be hating each other,” says Moloto.

Some of the issues highlighted in the memorandum include the tightening of the country’s borders and the use of healthcare facilities by illegal migrants. They say this leads to a shortage of medication, which then increases the country’s mortality rate.

A representative from the Premier’s office accepted the memorandum on Makhura’s behalf and promised to respond to the protestors’ demands within 14 days.

Some South Africans have slammed the group as xenophobic, saying they forget that various countries helped end apartheid and also housed activists who were exiled due to that regime’s oppressive laws.