Healthy condemnation of the government for vigilance

Then you might have read by Pieter Louis Myburgh Gangster County, which exposes the outrageous behavior of Ace Magashule, former Free State prime minister and recently ousted ANC secretary general. You’ve probably also heard of Julius Malema, the look-alike, pioneer, pilot, and militant Operation Dudula (push-off) leader, Nhlanhla ‘Lux’ Dlamini. Awesome, ruthless operators all, Dlamini shows how to lead a disappointed, unemployed army in an axenophobic wave against imaginary enemies: foreigners, people here to create a better life for themselves and their families. We do not have to look far to see what our Social Democrat-leaning government has created. Just look at where your gardener, gas station attendant, caretaker, plumber, electrician, welder and carpenter come from. I guess they are usually foreigners. Our state-dependent culture has created this fertile blossom violence and vigilance. When the police actively respond to the complaints of vigilance groups and ignore our constitution (and the complaints of foreigners), something is very wrong. Read on… – Chris Bateman

Growing vigilance: South Africa is reaping the benefits of mismanagement

Live Loren B Landau and Jean Pierre Misago*

Once on the fringes of South African politics, anti-immigration policies have become widespread. Several anti-immigrant groups, including Action Dudula, All Trucker Foundation and The first category of South Africahave become reference points for public debate.

They reflect a form of radical protectionism and convey the frustration of South Africans with corruption, crime and unemployment. The results are campaigns “Clear” the country of immigrantshome invasions and widespread threats and violence.

This is not a response to the immigration crisis. The number of immigrants is not higher than they have been for a decade. This is a crisis over the credibility of the constitution.

Action against immigrants is a different kind of policy, as violence is likely to become commonplace among fundamental violations of governance. After many years of unfulfilled promise, a young citizen has lost considerable faith in formal electoral politics.

The popular embrace of nationalism, street justice and anti-immigrant activism reflects the progress of outlaws. That government is a mixture of formal institutions and municipalities held together by protective wings and coercion. That system is now unfolding.

The danger of indirect control and protection

In the days of separatism, local criminals often formed alliances with separatism. Some justified their violence and modesty as a policy to make the country ungovernable. This latter group – the other ‘partner tsotis’ (so-called young thugs for claiming to be opponents of separatism) – later affiliated with the ruling party after the apartheid policy, the African National Congress (ANC). This allowed them to maintain a local influence tacit permission of the ANC. The opposition Inkatha Freedom Party has similarly been sometimes violent network of host leaders.

This created a system of “indirect government”, which reflects a similar logic to the colonial government in which local “rulers” worked in complex protection nets to maintain public order. But since the criminals once worked under the national government, the police and officials now seem to be responding to the raids, taking part in the Dudula attacks under ‘the monarch of the municipality‘.

Indirect government after the separatist policy has proved cost-effective for the government party. Rather than expanding its presence into populated cities swelled out during the apartheid erathat closed party offices.

Local councilors are elected under the country’s party list system are often absent or powerless. Viewed from the perspective of the historically neglected black residential area and informal settlements, elected officials are often committed to make the party happy but the people they seem to represent.

The ruling parties maintained this system of indirect control, relying on civic organizations, local leaders and other “community leaders” to vote and maintain order, for more than two decades.

Willingness or inability to deprive them of local authority, negotiate with national, district and local governments, and further strengthen their power. The challenge now is that the political and economic resources used by the three governments to maintain this system are diminishing.

The economic crisis in South Africa means fewer public tenders and less funding for social programs. More importantly, reduction in ANC support below 50% in the 2021 election means that party and bureaucrats are now facing an uncertain future. During this time, newcomers seeking opportunities and competing for positions in new alliances, power plants, and violence take over.

Cause of anxiety

Certainly there is more going on than a collapsing protection system. South Africans would generally prefer smaller immigrants. There has been no time for the last two decades as they have widely welcomed newcomers. COVID has raised concerns about immigrantssem Youth unemployment is close to 70%.

There is clearly a cause for anxiety. Politicians with few plans to take in this interval have taken advantage of these views.

Yet this widespread development does little to explain the violence in certain places, at certain times, or why it is so difficult to counteract it. Violence against outsiders is not universal nor always directly to immigrants alone.

It is also not easy to explain it with poverty. Many of the poorest areas have remained peaceful while the more affluent have not. Instead, violence tends to occur repeatedly in specific neighborhoods, due to local political power struggles.

Outsource state power

One example from our research in Mamelodi, outside Pretoria, the seat of the country’s national government, shows this point.

Its population growth has been greater than any kind of government intervention, police surveillance or service provision.

By working together, two groups have filled the vacuum in politics and regulation. One is Civic Association of South Africa. The other, the Phomelong Residents’ Association, is a local informal group led by self-appointed leaders. Those who want to build, trade or even transport goods around the area, pay for them or get out.

To fund their protests and political activities, the groups rob two shops and foreign-owned companies. Like the self-funded armies of old, protesters are allowed to plunder. One leader reported it,

when the protesters are hungry, they go and get food from the camps to eat or take home to cook; and if stores here are closed, they go to stores elsewhere.

By distributing funds and expelling foreigners, the organization legalizes its form of government, which is in the position of criminals. With the support of the public, they then demand the attention of the town authorities. Cleverly, their leaders lend the language a continuing black shortage and need “Radical economic transformation” to legislate.

Another example of this implicit rule is Philani, a poverty-stricken area that is largely neglected by city authorities, with the exception of eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal. Early 2019, Delangokubona Business Forum moved on the run and kidnapped about 50 foreigners live in the area.

Call for a master “Black economic empowerment”they accused foreigners of hindering the economic progress of poor black citizens.

They received ransoms from their families and friends while negotiating a safe return with the government. They were successful in both teams and set themselves up as intermediaries and pacifists – local authorities in practice.

As in other cases in the country, these groups are effectively create multiple protection pads. Increasingly (and with improbability) claim to be the weapon of war in the fight against separatism, they use violence to create instability and instill fear in exploiting resources and establishing legitimacy.

These actions create powerful local forces that demand payment from all kinds of government development projects in the areas they control. In this way, the state can preserve the image of power and constitutionalism at the same time as it allows others to work the filth to keep people in order. But trouble comes when developers can no longer pay or other parties look at the loot – money, houses, businesses and votes.


In light of the legacy of passive rule, it is unclear who the government can call to rule in violent leaders who actually control some small towns. Or, in fact, if it has a desire or popular legitimacy to do so. Impunity for past crimes has strengthened these groups, strengthened them so much that the police respond to them rather than the other way around.

They have the authority to decide who lives where, who does what and what the appropriate behavioral norms are, rather than the constitution or city councils.

South Africa national action plan on xenophobia calls for conversations and conversations with these groups. This is precisely the system they have managed to establish their power.

Violence against foreigners and real economic recovery can only be stopped by acknowledging – and addressing – the dangers inherent in South Africa’s crumbling system of passive rule.

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Healthy condemnation of the government for vigilance

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