Struggle in SA is for survival

Women do laundry in Setjwetla informal settlement in Alexandra amid the Covid-19 pandemic
Women do laundry in Setjwetla informal settlement in Alexandra amid the Covid-19 pandemic
Image: Thulani Mbele

The truth of the matter is South Africans are not xenophobic, they are just competing with foreigners for the very limited resources. The economic space where the majority of South Africans compete is very small in comparison to the broader mainstream economic spaces where the rich exist and compete.

These respective spaces are still representative of the colonial and apartheid spaces. The apartheid cities were structured for the minority few. The masses were relegated to the small black social enclaves to live their black lives far away from the so-called civilization of white South Africans.

In the late 1980s, SA witnessed a wave of mass looting of shops owned by South Africans. It was a matter of what was accessible for venting out the societal frustrations at the time. During this period, black on black violence became the order of the day.

Interestingly, the looters mainly targeted food. Unlike professional looters, the politicians, who steal from the poor for luxury, the masses are "survival looters".

The apartheid regime restricted influx of blacks into white spaces, to limit social interactions with the whites and exposure to the disparities between white and black lives. The negotiated sacrifice of Nelson Mandela and his buddies was the culmination of compromises, which promised to leave the economic privileges untouched.

Obviously, their hope was that political freedom would pave the way to economic freedom. In contrast, the gap between the rich and poor has widened in post-apartheid SA, as seen with an upsurge of gated communities designed to physically separate the rich from the poor black masses.

South Africans are not xenophobic, they are just like other human beings whose struggle is for survival. The struggle has always been for liberation and a better life.

Bushy Green, Kagiso

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