The debate rages on, on whether South Africa is a xenophobic country.
This follows a wave of attacks on foreign nationals that swept through Gauteng recently, leaving fatalities and a trail of destruction in its wake.
At least 12 people died and almost 700 others have been arrested. 10 of the deceased are South Africans.
While government has denounced these attacks as criminal in nature, some believe they are driven by hate against migrants.
Other quarters however believe there’s more to these incidents than what meets the eye. They believe it’s a cry of frustration from South Africans who feel let down by government due to lax border controls, high unemployment and crime rates.
President Cyril Ramaphosa sends Envoys to concerned countries on the continent on government’s plan to deal with this quagmire.
Democracy Gauge’s Lindiwe Mabena looks back to first incidents of Xenophobic attacks recorded in South Africa.
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
18 September 2019, 6:06 PM
This week we focus on the day when King Goodwill Zwelithini and the Zulu Royal House cut ties with former IFP leader, Prince Mangusuthu Buthelezi.
The incident occurred on 20 September 1994, a day after stone-throwing IFP youth supporters stormed the King’s Enyokeni Palace, disrupting a meeting between the King, Prince Buthelezi and the then President Nelson Mandela.
Following the attack, fearing for his life and furious over what he perceived as a threat to his kingdom, King Zwelithini cancelled the Shaka Day celebrations.
“This is a clear indication that they are invading the kingdom of kwaZulu and it’s a clear indication that death is knocking on the door,” he reportedly said.
South African National Defence Forces were subsequently dispatched to Nongoma to protect the King’s home.
He was later flown to Johannesburg for safety purposes.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) was accused of having used the provincial government bus to transport the people who stormed the Palace.
However, the party has denied involvement in the controversy.
Watch then KZN Premier Dr Frank Mdlalose briefing the media on the matter:
King Zwelithini, Prince Buthelezi, who is also the Zulu monarch’s traditional prime minister, and President Mandela had been meeting to discuss the King’s decision to invite Mandela to the KwaZulu-Natal Shaka Day event, which was held annually in honour of the 19th century Zulu king, credited with being the founder of the Zulu nation.
The invite had been made without Buthelezi’s knowledge and that angered him.
He even boycotted in protest the annual Reed Dance, which had been revived under his watch a decade earlier.
Despite the King’s cancellation of the Shaka Day event – Buthelezi went ahead and hosted it.
Watch snap Parliamentary debate on cancellation of Shaka Day celebrations:
He also raised eyebrows when he and his bodyguards stormed a live television broadcast with one-time King spokesperson who is also a member of the royal family, Prince Sifiso Zulu.
Zulu had been criticizing Buthelezi as the battle for the hearts and minds of the Zulu people raged at the time.
The former IFP leader later apologised to the nation after a rebuke from President Mandela.
Protracted royal rift
King Zwelithini and Prince Buthelezi are relatives and tensions had been simmering between them over the King’s growing relationship with Mandela.
King Zwelithini had also begun distancing himself from Buthelezi and the IFP, which had a tumultuous relationship with the governing African National Congress (ANC).
Another bone of contention was the King’s efforts to restore relations with the former IFP leader’s arch rival for the post of traditional prime minister to the monarch.
Prince Mcwayizeni Zulu, who was senior to Buthelezi and the brother of the King’s father, had been locked in a bitter feud for 26 years for the adviser role.
Zulu had insisted he was the rightful senior adviser.
Mcwayizeni was the regent to King Goodwill after his father’s death.
In 1971 when Goodwill ascended to the throne Mcwayizeni excluded Buthelezi from a proposed royal council to advise the king, saying he was not a member of the Zulu royal clan, but of a lower house.
“He has nothing to do with matters of the royal family. He is not a Zulu; he is a Buthelezi,” he proclaimed.
Buthelezi was also excluded from the official programme at the coronation, an incident he didn’t take kindly to and viewed it as an insult.
However, Buthelezi’s political power as the leader of the Zulu homeland helped him keep tight control over the King, leaving Mcwayizeni out in the cold.
The King’s office was a sub-division of Buthelezi’s department in the KwaZulu homeland and he had to ask Buthelezi for whatever he needed.
Things changed, however, at the dawn of democracy when the new government took over.
The King was made a trustee of the province’s tribal lands; the SANDF replaced the palace guard previously appointed by Buthelezi and his budget was put under the control of the provincial legislature.
While relations between Buthelezi and the King improved over time, there had been no reconciliation between Buthelezi and Prince Mcwayizeni at the time of his death.
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
12 September 2019, 5:27 PM
On 9 September 1994, members of the South African army protested for the first time in history.
Most of them were disgruntled former ANC guerrillas.
They walked from the Walmansthal military base to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The move came just five months after the official integration process of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), Azanian People’s Liberation Army (APLA) as well as the former homeland armed forces of the former Transkei, Boputhatswana, Venda and the Ciskei began.
The armies were all absorbed into the South African Defence Force (SADF) to create the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
While the soldiers didn’t reveal their reason for this, it was initially suspected that the protest had to do with services rendered outside the country during the armed struggle against apartheid.
Issues of equal rights and pay also cropped up.
Then President Nelson Mandela nonetheless managed to diffuse the situation.
He addressed the soldiers, assuring them that their concerns would be addressed.
Two other protests in Durban and Cape Town followed in 1995.
The majority of the protesters also returned to their bases after an address by Mandela. Those who didn’t were either discharged or taken to the military court, known as the court martial.
Watch report on the soldiers’ long walk to the Union Buildings:
The 9 September 1994 protest had come amid simmering tensions on camp.
In August, APLA cadres had expressed dissatisfaction with the SADF’s dominance in the country’s new army.
The soldiers also complained about the integration system being slow and the demotion of some of their leaders.
Former MK and APLA soldiers received lower salaries and ranks compared to their white counterparts from the former SADF due to their training and competence.
Qualifications were needed for them to qualify for leadership ranks and most of the liberation movement soldiers didn’t have matric as some had skipped the country in their youth escaping the brutality of the apartheid government, which constantly hunted down, harassed, tortured and brutally killed activists.
In addition, former non-statutory soldiers initially didn’t have uniforms and were not provided with pensions as had previously been promised.
Watch APLA soldiers expressing their concerns:
SANDF leaders felt the soldiers had had high expectations and needed time to adjust to their new life.
“The troops are at the moment receiving daily allowance not salaries. They are also comparing two different forces and they don’t understand the process,” said former SANDF Commander Major-General Wiliam Nkonyeni.
In April 1995, the military began a demobilisation process, allowing former MK and APLA fighters who did not want to be in the army or couldn’t serve due to physical challenges to stand down voluntarily.
Parliament also passed the Demobilisation Act the following year, which extended the demobilisation to older SANDF members who either couldn’t continue serving due to age or health reasons.
Call for South Africans to be the change they want to see
10 September 2019, 7:18 PM
The ability to influence people’s thinking and behaviour has the power to change history.
Revolutionaries and freedom fighters around the world are proof to this.
71-year-old Mam’Eldah Radebe is also living that truth. She has embraced democracy and all the opportunities it’s brought for her.
In addition to her nursing qualifications, the go-getter boasts an Administration degree and an MBA, which she obtained a year after South Africa’s 1994 landmark elections.
Raised by her grandmother in rural Eastern Cape, Radebe didn’t allow her background nor the fear of the unknown limit her. The 71-year-old was among the first South African nurses to work abroad.
She’s now based in Johannesburg but has work experience in Saudi Arabia and the UK.
Mam’Radebe influenced labour laws in Saudi Arabia, which led to the process known as Saudirization.
And she continues inspiring young people in her life and society to be the change they want to see.
Watch her story below:
This week in 1994: Democracy 25
4 September 2019, 6:09 PM
We focus on the lifting of the State of Emergency in KwaZulu-Natal. The martial law was imposed on the province on 31 March 1994 following heightened political violence, and was only lifted on 7 September 1994.
The move had been precedented by the killing of five ANC members who had gone to a peace meeting in a hostel in KwaMashu. They were kidnapped at the hostel with two of their comrades who survived the attack.
Four IFP leaders were convicted for the crime.
Watch SAP member Nelson Malinga’s response to the onslaught:
Bloody road to democracy
Then South African President FW De Klerk invoked the State of Emergency at the behest of the Transitional Executive Council (TEC), a multiparty body that was established to facilitate the transition to democracy.
The months of March and April 1994 are recorded to have been the most violent in the history of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal, which began in the 1980s.
According to the Human Rights Committee of South Africa in Natal, 429 people died in the province during the last two weeks of March and first two weeks of April.
One incident was the ambush of 15 ANC youth members, 12 of them under the age of 18, in February.
Watch Mandela addressing the media on the KZN violence:
Jostle for control
The violence was a failed bid by the IFP to retain control of the KwaZulu-Natal government and resist efforts by the ANC and its allies to establish support within the homeland.
It is said to have been exacerbated by the South African Police’s (SAP) bias.
The apartheid government also supplied IFP members with weapons.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, probing the unrest in KZN, the police force responded promptly to calls for help in Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) strongholds, while it would cite poor roads and a lack of streetlights for not pitching up whenever African National Congress (ANC) or United Democratic Front (UDF) communities called for assistance.
Police are also reported to have turned a blind eye to IFP members who violated the martial law by publicly brandishing traditional weapons and firearms.
Soldiers also did not conduct weapon searches at locations known to be used as attack bases nor did they conduct preventative arrests of people known to be inclined to kill or organise political hits.
The intent is said to have been to destabilise black communities at national level.
While that didn’t materialise – the conflict did spill over to Ekurhuleni townships of Katlehong and Thokoza, where at least 3 000 people are believed to have been killed between 1990 and 1994.
Many others remain unaccounted for.
Watch the IFP’s Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s reaction to the State of Emergency:
Between 1987 and 1990 alone, more than 3 000 people were allegedly killed in the KwaZulu-Natal killing fields.
The conflict intensified during the four years of negotiations for a transition to democratic rule.
It almost descended into an all-out civil war in the last months before South Africa’s historic elections in April 1994, significantly disrupting the process.
However, the IFP’s decision to take part in the poll after last-minute negotiations reduced the violence dramatically. The polls proceeded without incident and the party won the provincial leadership contest.
The State of Emergency was lifted on 7 September 1994.
More than 10 000 people in total were killed in the bloodshed and thousands others displaced.
While the violence continued at a reduced level since April 1994, the province remains a highly contested region and quite volatile.