Schlagwort-Archive: money

Ubuntu in Germany Column

RTL story about HIV schoolgirls shows how foreigners see South Africa

(Editor: Alex Smit-Stachowski is speaking in her column about life as a South African now living in Germany. The South African journalist lives in Krefeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia/ Germany).

Every third schoolgirl in South Africa is HIV-positive! The German television RTL ran an incorrect story on a weekend in March 2013 about sugardaddies who target young teens for sex in exchange for money or presents. On the face of it – it’s another typical another day in Africa. Aids, underage sex and no values – what do you expect from a Third World country being run by the locals? I am fed-up with such shoddy reporting about Africa.

© The German television RTL reported that every third schoolgirl in South Africa is HIV-positive! A journalist from the newspaper Sowetan misunderstood a report on statistics. RTL has adopted wrong information, said Ubuntu columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski. (Source: flickr/ Joseph A Ferris III)

© The German television RTL reported that every third schoolgirl in South Africa is HIV-positive! A journalist from the newspaper Sowetan misunderstood a report on statistics. RTL has adopted wrong information, said Ubuntu columnist Alex Smit-Stachowski. (Source: flickr/ Joseph A Ferris III)

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Exklusiv-Story: Ein Minenarbeiter packt aus

„Es muss so schnell wie möglich eine Lösung gefunden werden“

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Akanyang Merementsi ist Minenarbeiter und Blogger aus der südafrikanischen Provinz North West. Er lebt in Rustenburg. Dem Ort, an welchem das “Massaker” gegen 34 Minenarbeiter begangen wurde. Er war bei den tragischen Ereignissen nicht dabei, kennt aber viele der Leute persönlich. Akanyang untermauert, dass die Arbeiter mehr Geld wollen. Hingegen fühlen sich viele Minenarbeiter nicht mehr durch die Minengewerkschaft NUM angemessen repräsentiert. Es wird vor Ort befürchtet, dass andere Minenarbeiter sich den Protesten in Marikana & Rustenburg anschließen könnten. Diese Solidaritätsbewegung befürwortete Julius Malema, der einstige ANC-Jugendliga-Präsident. Die unangenehme Situation der gegenwärtigen südafrikanischen Bergwerkindustrie erinnere an die 70/80er-Jahre. Einige Minenarbeiter sehen gar einen direkten Vergleich zwischem dem Marikana-Massaker 2012 und dem Sharpeville-Massaker von 1960. Akanyang beklagt, dass niemand die Verantwortung für die Geschehnisse tragen möchte. NUM und AMCU schieben sich gegenseitg die Schuld zu. Auch die Rolle der Polizei könne nicht abschließend bewertet werden. Offiziell hat die Polizeibehörde SAPS das Verhalten der Beamten als Selbstverteidigung deklariert. Die gegenwärtigen Untersuchungen – ausgehend von einer durch Präsident Zuma eingesetzten Kommission und die der polizeilichen Innenrevision „Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)“ – werden den tragischen Vorfällen auf den Grund gehen. Mittlerweile streiken nicht nur die Minenarbeiter, sondern auch deren Ehefrauen und die Lokalgemeinschaften. Auf die Frage hin, ob er Vergeltungsangriffe der Minenarbeiter auf die Polizei befürchte, konnte Akanyang keine Einschätzung dessen abgeben. Der Interviewte betont, dass eine Lösung so schnell wie möglich her muss. Grundsätzliche Entlassungen des Bergbaukonzerns Lonmin würden die bestehende Situation nur verschlimmern. Der gegenwärtige Ruf des Managements lässt sich auf die reine Profitgier reduzieren; die hart arbeitenden Minenarbeiter finden umso weniger Beachtung. Minenarbeiter verdienen mit 4.000 Rand zu wenig, damit es zum Leben ausreicht. Dieser Verdienst soll jedoch nach dem Willen der Belegschaft auf 5.000 bis 12.000 Rand angehoben werden – also eine Verdreifachung. Dabei handelt sich um die Minenarbeiter in vielen Fällen um sogenannte „Rock Drill Operators“, also unter Tage hart ackernde Bohrer. Die Arbeit der in Rivalität zueinander stehenden Minengewerkschaften NUM und AMCU bezeichnet der Minenarbeiter als „chaotisch“. Mittlerweile verliert NUM zunehmend mehr Mitglieder an AMCU.

© Akanyang Merementsi ist ein Minenarbeiter aus Rustenburg, North West. Er erlebt die Entwicklungen im Bergbausektor Südafrikas jeden Tag aufs Neue. Er fordert eine schnellstmögliche Lösung des Problems. Vor allem die Entlohnung seiner Kollegen decke den Lebensunterhalt definitiv nicht.

© Akanyang Merementsi ist ein Minenarbeiter aus Rustenburg, North West. Er erlebt die Entwicklungen im Bergbausektor Südafrikas jeden Tag aufs Neue. Er fordert eine schnellstmögliche Lösung des Problems. Vor allem die Entlohnung seiner Kollegen decke den Lebensunterhalt definitiv nicht.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste – the German Gateway to South Africa – the Rustenburg miner Akanyang Merementsi. Dear Akanyang, as a miner you are following the current developments in your home province North West very closely. How could this escalation happen?

Answer: Workers want money and they might go to whatever extent at their exposal to go and get it. At least there were not any destruction to (public) properties by strikers.

The fact that they felt leaderless – after apparently abandoning NUM because it no longer cared about their needs – may have contributed to what we have since the strike started on Aug 10.

From media reports coming live that area as I am far from it – it is likely that this will take longer. There are fears that other mine workers around the area will join in in „solidarity“ as they were advised by expelled African National Congress Youth League President Julius Malema on 18 Aug.

But it is doubtful if they would given the many dead bodies they had witnessed themselves as a result. Some are also suggesting that what happened at Lonmin’s Marikana operations is like to be witnessed at other mining operations not only around the Rustenburg but country wide. But that remains to be seen.

© Einige Minenarbeiter waren mit Messern und anderen Waffen ausgestattet. Die Polizei beharrt bisweilen auf ihr Selbstverteidigungsrecht. (Quelle: Akanyang Merementsi)

© Einige Minenarbeiter waren mit Messern und anderen Waffen ausgestattet. Die Polizei beharrt bisweilen auf ihr Selbstverteidigungsrecht. (Quelle: Akanyang Merementsi)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Some media are talking about a state of “civil war”. Are you sharing this view?

Answer: Some have called it a „massacre“ while others have, as you suggest, seen it as a „civil war“ not only between mine workers and their employers.

It is an unpleasant situation that was apparently last seen in the 70s and 80s – one situation many have since likened to the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Who bears the blame for the situation?

Answer: There are finger pointing at the moment and no one seems to take responsibility for what happened especially among the unions as to what led to the strike in the first place.

Majority union at Lonmin, NUM, blames its rival, AMCU and the later denies its involvement in having made the strikers even angrier.

As for the shooting on Thursday, the police are yet to admit their actions were wrong. This as National Police Commission has repeatedly defended the police services‘ shooting at the strikers, saying their (police) lives were in danger and therefore they had acted in self-defence.

On Friday President Jacob Zuma announced a commission of inquiry which will try and get to bottom of what actually had transpired during the shooting. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is also said to have announced its own investigation that „will seek to establish if the police action was proportional to the threat posed by the miners“.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is the mood among the miners?

Answer: Media reports quote many miners saying they will continue to strike until their demands are met. Even their wives and local community women had joined in in solidarity, accusing the mine of not treating strikers like human beings. According to a Mail & Guardian Online report, the miners said they will regroup and have a meeting again on Aug 20.

© Die Frauen der Minenarbeiter haben sich den Protesten angeschlossen. Unterdessen sicherte die Regierung den Witwen und Halbwaisen umfassende Unterstützung zu. (Quelle: flickr/ Pan-African News Wire)

© Die Frauen der Minenarbeiter haben sich den Protesten angeschlossen. Unterdessen sicherte die Regierung den Witwen und Halbwaisen umfassende Unterstützung zu. (Quelle: flickr/ Pan-African News Wire)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are you expecting revenge on the cops?

Answer: That is difficult to say. They may want to revenge because, say, their colleagues were killed for nothing except that they only wanted their wage demands met. So I can’t say with certainty as couldn’t the police whether the remaining miner workers would revenge their colleagues deaths or not.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Do the miners of Lonmin fearing now a wave of mass layoffs?

Answer: There haven’t been any reports that there will be lay-off yet. I think what is important now is that a solution must be found as soon as possible, and if there are lay-off plans, those will be discussed at a later stage but now when over 50 people have just been shot at, with over 75 being wounded.

Any suggestions of lay-off now will not only be miscalculated but that it might escalate the situation to more than what had been seen in the mining industry. That would also reinforce the perception that the Lonmin management does not want to give salary increases because they are only looking at their profits and own pockets and not the hard working miners‘.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What is a mine worker earning on average per month in South Africa?

Answer: It will be difficult to give an average of generally what mine workers earn. Remember just early this year the same category of workers had embarked on a strike at Impala demanding a take home of about R9000.00 because they claimed their take home of about R4000.00 was not enough. Now Lonmin’s Rock Drill Operators also reportedly want their take home to be increased from R4000 or R5000 to R12000.

Besides, you cannot get an average of how much miners earn because their categories of work are not the same.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Are wage demands by 200 percent really justified?

Answer: Only they (Lonmin strikers) can say whether that is justified or not.

Importantly, no Lonmin/Impala or any other platinum mining company would operate without Rock Drill Operators – especially when we talk of production.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: How do you evaluate the work of trade unions NUM and AMCU?

Answer: Their status are in shambles.

NUM is gradually losing membership to AMCU and the latter seems to be dominating – but without the bargaining power at Lonmin – and gradually taking over the mining industry.

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Thank you very much for this interview. Hope the mining sector in South Africa will get ASAP a sufficient solution on this crisis.

NGO-Direktor Braam Hanekom im Interview

Polizei in Südafrika ist von Rassismus gegen afrikanische Flüchtlinge befallen

(Autor/ Editor: Ghassan Abid)

Deutsche Interview-Zusammenfassung:

Südafrika hat ein großes Rassismusproblem im Zusammenhang mit afrikanischen Flüchtlingen. Insbesondere die Behörden des Landes, allen voran die Polizei und die Einwanderungsbehörden, sind von xenophoben Strömungen gegen Afrikaner betroffen. Ermittlungsverfahren im Hinblick auf die Misshandlung von Ausländern durch Polizeibeamte werden all zu oft erst gar nicht betrieben. Zu dieser Erkenntnis kommt auch Braam Hanekom, Gründer und Direktor der NGO PASSOP. Der gebürtige Simbabwer versucht mit seiner in Kapstadt ansässigen Organisation die Grundrechte von afrikanischen Flüchtlingen, Immigranten und Asylanten durchzusetzen. Denn nicht jeder, der Recht hat, kriegt auch sein Recht. Vor allem dann nicht, wenn diese keine Aufenthaltspapiere bekommen. Nur hochqualifizierten Afrikanern steht der legale Aufenthalt am Kap offen. Vor 2009 sind pro Jahr rund eine Viertelmillion Simbabwer abgeschoben worden. Trotz der Einheitsregierung in Simbabwe von 2008, welche aus den Parteien MDC and ZANU-PF zusammengesetzt ist,  machen sich – bei einer Arbeitslosenquote von 85 Prozent durchaus verständlich – weiterhin viele Simbabwer auf dem Weg in das südafrikanische Nachbarland. Diese erwartet nicht nur eine fremde Umgebung, sondern auch Fremdenfeindlichkeit durch Staatsdiener sowie Township-Bewohnern und ein unsicherer Rechtsstatus.  Flüchtlinge, so Hanekom, werden in der Regenbogennation als Gefahr wahrgenommen. Einige Hilfesuchende stellen einen Asylantrag, die anderen leben illegal im Untergrund. Bei absoluter Armut, hoher Arbeitslosigkeit und unzureichenden Schulplatzkapazitäten mündet der Wettbewerb um die begrenzten Ressourcen in einen Hass gegen Afrikaner ein. Der NGO-Direktor spricht in diesem Kontext von der „Afrophobia„; einer Xenophobie, die sich ausschließlich gegen afrikanische Flüchtlinge richtet. „Die Armen greifen die Armen an„, hält Hanekom mit Bedauern fest. Solange in Südafrika die Ungleichheit bestehen bleibt, wird die Fremdenfeindlichkeit fortbestehen. Hanekom erwartet in naher Zukunft die nächsten Ausschreitungen gegen afrikanische Flüchtlinge. Im Mai 2012 jährt sich zum vierten Mal die Gewaltwelle gegen Flüchtlinge im Johannesburger Stadtteil Alexandra.

© PASSOP is counting to one of the most important NGOs for protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“. (Source: flickr/ PASSOP)

© PASSOP is counting to one of the most important NGOs for protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“. (Source: flickr/PASSOP)

© Braam Hanekom, founder and director of the NGO PASSOP

© Braam Hanekom, founder and director of the NGO PASSOP

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We would like to welcome on „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“ – the German Gateway to South Africa – Mr. Braam Hanekom, founder and director of the NGO „People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP)“.  You are originally from Zimbabwe and assisted the most important oppositon party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) by president Morgan Tsvangirai. How would you describe the actually situation in your native country, if you are hearing the government hasn´t money to finance elections?

Answer: Thank you for giving me this opportunity – it’s great to see people in Germany taking such an interest and caring about issues in South Africa and the region. To answer your question, the situation in Zimbabwe remains much unchanged since the formation of the unity government in 2008. There is a still a political deadlock between the MDC and ZANU-PF. While Mugabe has been pushing for early elections this year – probably because he currently has the finances to run a big propaganda campaign through the diamonds that were recently uncovered, as well as the fact that he is not getting any younger – the MDC and regional partners have maintained that the preconditions for fair and sound elections outlined in the Global Political Agreement have not yet been met. It is clear that although there has been a minor economic recovery in Zimbabwe, it has been the rich who have prospered while the vast majority of the population is suffering in poverty and have to cope with a 85% unemployment rate. Therefore, the situation remains precarious and we are trying to push the South African government to take a more active and assertive foreign policy approach towards Zimbabwe to ensure it’s stability. 

© Immigrants from Zimbabwe are living as second class citizens in South Africa. The South African government is ignoring the xenophobic tendencies in their authorities. (Source: flickr/PASSOP)© Immigrants from Zimbabwe are living as second class citizens in South Africa. The South African government is ignoring the xenophobic tendencies in their authorities. (Source: flickr/PASSOP)

© Immigrants from Zimbabwe are living as second class citizens in South Africa. The South African government is ignoring the xenophobic tendencies in their authorities. (Source: flickr/PASSOP)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: PASSOP is protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“. There are estimates that 5 million African refugees living in South Africa, mostly from Zimbabwe. Which are the biggest problems for these humans?

Answer: Immigrants that come to South Africa find it extremely difficult to get documentation. Only people who have advanced degrees are able to get work permits. All others, including teachers or nurses, for example, are unable to get work permits. As a result the only chance immigrants have to document themselves is to apply for asylum. The vast majority of applicants are however rejected, and are forced to live in South Africa without documents. This has negative implications for the realisation of their basic rights. They are often exploited, discriminated against and left in vulnerable positions. They are also often faced with a hostile and xenophobic environment in South Africa, and are subjected to verbal threats and physical violence. To put it simply: people come here fleeing hunger and conflict, but once they get here, life does not get much easier for most of them. 

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Several South African communities are strucked by xenophobic violence such as Du Noon in 2008, Imizamo Yethu in 2008, De Doorns 2009, Masiphumelele in 2009, as well as Mbekweni in 2010. What are the factors for these hate outbreaks?

Answer: There are many theories. I guess this ‚hate of foreigners‘ is common in countries around the world, including the States and Europe. Like in other regions, hence, xenophobic tension here is essentially the result from the competition for scarce resources, like jobs or access to schools, and many South Africans feel that foreigners are making lives more difficult for them in these ways. The difference in South Africa compared to other parts of the world is that the tensions here more often turn violent. This excessive violence here is the result of a number of factors, including that the scars from the Apartheid regime have not yet fully healed in South Africa, there are deep inequalities and frustration across the country, and the media is making it worse by being flooded with gruesome images of murders or crime, which perpetuates the ‚culture of violence‘.  By the way, it is probably more appropriate to call this ‚afrophobia‘ rather than xenophobia, because you don’t see any Europeans being attacked, just other Africans.  It is the poor attacking the poor, fighting over the crumbs left behind by the (mostly white) elite and rich. It’s very sad.

© PASSOP demonstration in Cape Town. The NGO held in 2009 a demonstration calling for all Zimbabwe's political prisoners to be released. (Source: flickr/  Sokwanele - Zimbabwe + PASSOP)

© PASSOP demonstration in Cape Town. The NGO held in 2009 a demonstration calling for all Zimbabwe’s political prisoners to be released. (Source: flickr/ Sokwanele – Zimbabwe + PASSOP)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Would you agree the opinion that the South African police is afflicted with racism against African refugees?

Answer: Yes, and even if it is not just racism, it is definitely a very clear apathy or indifference towards foreigners, which means that in practice, many cannot access their rights. We constantly hear cases in which police officers refuse to open or investigate cases for foreigners, as stipulated by law. This police apathy is in fact what makes outbreaks of xenophobia possible. If the police doesn’t protect vulnerable foreigners, then who will. It is a major problem, but it is acknowledged by political leaders. I recently laughed when I had a debate with a police chief on the radio about this, and he admitting that it was a massive problem but that there were ‚pockets of excellence‘ in the police force.  

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Do you think xenophobic violence could arising in the near future again?

Answer: Definitely. We are now coming up to the four year anniversary of the major outbreak of May 2008, but the tensions are still boiling right under the surface because the preconditions have remained the same. As long as South Africa is plagued by the current levels of inequality, they will keep resurfacing. I am not saying that the majority of South Africans are xenophobic at all, but there is a certain group of frustrated young South African men across the country that are prone to violence. 

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: What should the South African government and first of all the Department of Home Affairs undertake for avoiding xenophobia?

Answer: The government needs to create more jobs and work harder to reduce the inequality. The Department of Home Affairs should give foreigners a chance to document themselves by issuing temporary work permits, rather than forcing them to be undocumented and then deporting them in their thousands. This deportation of foreigners is an important issue. The deportation of Zimbabweans was stopped between 2009 and 2011 – prior to 2009 about 250,000 Zimbabweans were deported every year. Going into communities doing immigration raids and targeting foreigners was one of the key factors that triggered the xenophobic violence, because it legitimized the mistreatment of foreigners in the eyes of many in the townships („if the government can kick out foreigners, so can I“) and it also led to huge instability. Five months ago deportations of Zimbabweans was resumed, and already 20,000 have been deported and immigration raids have started again. This is dangerous for stability and needs to handled very differently. 

© Braam Hanekom is originally from Zimbabwe. His organisation PASSOP is protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“

© Braam Hanekom is originally from Zimbabwe. His organisation PASSOP is protecting and promoting „the rights of all refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants in South Africa“ (Source: PASSOP)

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: We took notice that with your programme coordinator David von Burgsdorff a German citizen is engaged in your NGO structures. Is PASSOP maintaining relations to Germany and if yes, which ones?

Answer: Yes, David is my right-hand man who has helped me build up this organisation. He embodies the classic stereotype of ‚German efficiency‘ – it’s amazing how he gets things done. In fact, he is the only of our 11 full-time staff members who is not African, although I suspect at heart he is by now more African than German…  We don’t receive any funding from Germany, nor have any formal relations with the German Embassy at this point, but what is certain is that through David our staff have become big admirers of your country and it’s people! 

2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Braam Hanekom, PASSOP director, thank you very much for this interesting interview!