Elvis Nyathi’s murder was no accident

John Steehuisen says foreigners are being scapegoated for ANC govt failure


13 April 2022

The DA's position on xenophobia

The DA sympathises deeply with the family of Elvis Nyathi, an innocent father of four, who was brutally killed last Wednesday in Diepsloot. His only “crime” was that he was from Zimbabwe.

The DA unequivocally condemns xenophobic violence and the rhetoric that inflames it. We ask South Africans to stand with us against all forms of violence and hatred.

South Africa’s growing jobs and poverty crisis is a result of the incompetence, corruption and bad policies of the ANC government; not of foreigners taking jobs.

(The pandemic and the Russian attack on Ukraine have aggravated the situation. But South Africa went into both those crises on the back foot, with no buffer and therefore no ability to offer people meaningful relief. And the ANC government has handled both challenges very badly, thereby unnecessarily aggravating the situation.)

The large number of undocumented foreigners living in South Africa is due to our broken ANC-run Home Affairs department and our porous ANC-controlled borders. It is not for want of foreign nationals trying to obtain or maintain their legal status, as can be seen from long queues outside Home Affairs offices throughout the country.

Foreigners are being scapegoated for ANC government failure. Of course, this is easier to comprehend if you are in the middle-class, employed, informed, and have the luxury of taking an unemotional, objective stance on the matter.

It is less clear to South Africans who are desperate, poverty-stricken, unemployed, uninformed, and living amongst employed, undocumented foreigners. That’s why South Africa’s leaders need to point to the real causes of xenophobia and drive workable solutions.

In his newsletter yesterday titled “Fight crime, not migrants”, President Ramaphosa rightly condemns xenophobia. But he blames crime instead, as if crime is the cause rather than yet another symptom of the same root problem: ANC government failure.

“Crime, not migrants, is the common enemy we must work together to defeat”, he says. This is dishonest and disingenuous. First, because it deflects attention from the real problem. Second, because it implies that ordinary citizens have the power to fix it.

As president, he has immense power to solve the root problems. He can replace useless cabinet ministers starting with Police Minister Bheki Cele, insist on key economic reforms, and end cadre deployment.

As the only person lending legitimacy to the ANC, he has far more power than he seems willing to wield. The only power that citizens have is to vote out the ANC altogether in 2024, and this they will need to do if jobs are ever to be created, crime reduced, and poverty ended.

Worse, though, is leaders like Julius Malema and Herman Mashaba who actively incite violence by unfairly and inaccurately targeting foreign nationals and deliberately fanning the flames of xenophobia for political gain.

Elvis Nyathi’s murder was no accident. It is the tragic but predictable outcome of ANC failure combined with xenophobic rhetoric by leaders unwilling or unable to identify the real root cause and drive real workable solutions.

It may also be just the first spark of a wildfire primed to happen in this dry wasteland that is our economy. Unfettered xenophobia could lead to a complete breakdown of law and order, and there is a very real danger that we could see a repeat of last year’s looting and destruction.

The DA has consistently pointed to the root causes of joblessness and poverty and put forward workable solutions.

The DA has fought hard to highlight and end the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment that has hollowed out the state’s capacity to deliver services to the poor and an environment conducive to investment. Indeed, it was DA action that forced the ANC to release the minutes of deployment committee meetings, proving that public officials are appointed for party political reasons rather than for their ability to serve the public.

The DA has fought hard against corruption. Indeed, former President Jacob Zuma is fighting charges of fraud and racketeering because we pursued this matter relentlessly, for years. The Zondo Commission came about because the DA filed a complaint against state capture with former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

The DA has also fought hard for better policies. Indeed, we have put forward a raft of reform bills that would bring rapid economic improvement and build an open, opportunity society for all.

DA head of policy, Gwen Ngwenya, has produced a rational, evidence-based migration policy motivated by opportunity rather than fear. While concerns about competition for low-skilled or unskilled work are understandable and legitimate, the evidence is that migrants either have a neutral impact on the employment prospects of South Africans or tend to create more jobs than they occupy.

The DA’s migration policy is designed to attract skills, knowledge sharing and know-how, promote trade, enable investment, increase freedom of movement and eliminate xenophobia. It has workable solutions that focus on fixing Home Affairs, streamlining our immigration system and attracting skilled immigrants.

These solutions include the opening of all refugee reception offices, the implementation of an advanced migration registry system to properly document all migrants that enter or leave the country, a points-based skilled migration system to attract skilled migrants, a possible e-verification system that would enable employers to check the work eligibility status of potential employees, and the blacklisting of officials who are found guilty of migration corruption and fraud from working for any State agency or government department, as well as laying criminal charges against them.

In the general election of 2024, a vote for the DA will be a vote for a capable, honest state that delivers services, attracts skills and investment, grows jobs and the economy, builds confidence in the future, and tackles poverty, just as we are currently doing where we already govern.


Warm regards,

John Steenhuisen

DA Leader