Africa, News

South African Voters ‘In a Bad Mood’ Over Unemployment and Corruption

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Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from Global Information Network
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Unemployment in South Africa is higher than at any time in the past 11 years – reaching 26.4 percent and almost double that for young people under 25 years of age.

Democratic Alliance Leader
Democratic Alliance Leader Mmusi Maimane

Joblessness, combined with lurid reports of corruption, have left voters discouraged and dismayed, according to an internal ANC election strategy document. The party will be facing elections next year with key cities now in play – Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Voters “think we are performing badly” in combating crime and corruption and in creating jobs, the internal document said, adding: “Dysfunctional state services and corrupt leaders and lack of contact lose us hundreds of thousands of votes.”

Voters are in a bad mood and are fed up with corruption and incompetence, the report announced.

A copy of the report was obtained by the Mail & Guardian newspaper and shared with its readers.

In addition to the failure to create jobs, government has failed to get a grip on crime with its spike in murders, house robberies and hijackings.

Sharing these concerns was Public Works minister and ANC executive committee member Thulas Nxesi who predicted a looming political disaster if the ruling ANC does not revisit the strategy it once employed when waging war against apartheid.

ANC affiliated student organizations, he noted, are being voted out in various campuses which were once the heart of the anti-apartheid movement. The University of Limpopo and Fort Hare University – mainly for the disadvantaged, black and African – have been taken over by the Economic Freedom Fighters and the  Democratic Alliance Student Organisation respectively, moves he called “embarrassing.”

Meanwhile, riotous shouts were heard at a budgetary meeting in Parliament where union members demanded the release of a still-secret government report on the killing of workers at the Marikana mines.

Mmusi Maimane, the new Black leader of the Democratic Alliance, entered the fray fighting.  Is the President “telling us that the lives of black workers are cheap?” by withholding the report, he asked. Or is he stalling to protect “members of his inner circle” who might be implicated by the findings of the Marikana Commission.

“Honorable President,” he declared. “I believe that black lives, like all lives, matter.”

Finally, attacks on foreigners including a new government “anti-crime” strategy called Operation Fiela (Sweep the Dirt) are drawing new criticism from a coalition of nongovernmental organisations, including Lawyers for Human Rights, Doctors Without Borders, the Southern Africa Litigation Center, Sonke Gender Justice, Africa Diaspora Forum and Awethu.

They say the campaign is unfairly targeting foreign nationals, over a thousand of whom have been  arrested and mistakenly equates the presence of undocumented foreigners in South Africa with crime.

The round-up was defended by Acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams, who said the operation, which has resulted in the arrest of more than 800 undocumented migrants, was not specifically targeted at foreigners.

“Operation Fiela is targeted in certain areas, which were areas pointed out to government by the communities as drug infested. These areas that the operation focuses on might have a lot of foreign nationals but there are also South Africans who are living in those areas,” she said.

Critics of the foreign national crackdown responded: “Current state-led raids which disproportionately target African foreign nationals and paint them as criminals, are simply an attempt to divert attention from the ongoing socio-economic problems that have not been caused by immigrants, and will certainly continue whether or not foreign migrants live in South Africa.”

The operation was launched after xenophobic violence swept through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last month.

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