Special Reports

Xenophobia: The past comes back to haunt us

Jeremy Cronin, deputy secretary of the SACP, says South Africa is dealing with the "ghosts of a past that has never truly been transformed".

Violence, racial tension, heated debates about what the heritage of South Africa should look like, and most recently, the spate of xenophobic attacks begs the question: Where did we go wrong and what does the future hold?

Over the past week, the African News Agency (ANA) spoke to four commentators working at grassroots level and within both political and civil society to attempt to explain why the current situation in South Africa seemingly depicts a pressure cooker waiting to boil over.

“Twenty one years into democracy, the promise of freedom has not yielded fruits,” said Stanley Henkeman, head of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation’s (IJR) Building an Inclusive Society programme.

“All the challenges of the past have come back to haunt us because all we’ve done is remove the structures of an apartheid regime but we have not dealt with the soul of this country”.

This followed attacks on foreign nationals and looting of their shops which began in Isipingo, outside Durban over a months ago, and spread to other parts of the country.

Mozambican national Emmanuel Sithole was killed in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township. The pictures of his attack made international headlines. The violence claimed the lives of seven people, three of them South African. Government deployed the army to assist police in hot spots.

Speaking in his capacity as deputy secretary general of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Deputy Minister of Public Works and member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC), Jeremy Cronin, echoed Henkeman’s words: “We are dealing with the ghosts of a past that has never truly been transformed”. The violence and anger witnessed in South Africa of late was not, however, something spontaneous or surprising.

Click here to read the full report.

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