In South Africa this week has been faced with the demonstrations which associated with looting and vandalization of shopping malls and other facilities in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. But, the evidence from the media showed people taking foods and others things like fridge, bicycles and money. The causal of this is beyond jailed of former president Jacob Zuma after the Constitutional Court wanted Zuma to go for his willing in prison for 15 months. This derived the followers of Zuma to enter in the street and demonstrate and demand to be released in jail, but poor and marginalized people took the space to fight for hunger and poverty. This riots caused 72 death and more than 1,200 people have been arrested.
In this article, I tried to rethink what happened in South Africa and why there is events like xenophobia and looting? What are the kernel of this? But we should take as an alert for our kernel problem of poverty and inequality within the neoliberal forces.
Appearance of the Problem
Basically, Zuma demonstration and riots, this is the factor has been explained by the media and some of the analysts in South Africa. But there is others who tried to say that people use the Zuma event as opportunity to loot and crime, this views correspond the statement from the President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa that it is opportunistic crime, and deployed police and military to restore the situation.
Also, there is an arguments that, what happed it is laziness to the people of South Africa that they don’t work and they want a quick success without any struggles to work hard. And linked with the xenophobic attack that has been occurred for years in South Africa, as a sign of laziness of the people who were chasing their African fellows and think that are the one who capturing their jobs and make them in poverty. And other point finger to the ruling party African National Congress (ANC) as a source of all these problems failed to organize the country.
Other factor has been spoken is presence of Covid 19, due the long lockdown and left millions of people from job and hunger. The Covid 19 mentioned as one of the most disease which dropped the economy of the world and in particular the African economy in term of growth and development. Also, affecting the economy of the individuals.
All above are the descriptive and/or appearance of the problem, it does not give the roots cause of the problem, just give us the upper surface of the problem. The other part of this article will give the kernel of the problem.
The kernel of problem is poverty and inequality.
The evidence from the people in South Africa, who were engaged in demonstration and taking foods and things in shops, underline the question of hunger and jobless. These forced by the poverty and inequality that prevail in the society. According to the World Inequality Report of (2018) revealed that South Africa stand out as one of the most unequal countries in the world. The report continue to portray that, “In 2014, the top 10% received 2/3 of national income, while the top 1% received 20% of national income”. Also, World Bank says Riches 20% control the 70& of all resources and unemployment is higher at 32.6% in South Africa. This has long history of apartheid and the on slaughter of neoliberalism under white monopoly capital. The neoliberal forces has been dominated in every sphere of life, privatization and commodification of land, healthcare, water, roads, education and foods takes the lead. These forces and relations resulting the poverty to the majority around 90% and increasing inequality between rich and poor to access those services.
A word from the revolutionist of Guine Bissau and Cape Verde Amilcar Cabral said “Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.” This is what happened in South Africa, people fight economy not ideas, that why the shops of books are not faced this problem. There is one of the picture spread in social media, showed one of the of books shops that not vandalized and stolen, this because you can’t think before eat and live, you can see people take breads and others foods and not books. Even if the government of South Africa wanted to restore such situation, should address the question of material conditions.
Hence, the issues is not Zuma or laziness of the people, it is about system of capitalist economy which produce poverty and inequality. Take example, question of land in South Africa has been commodified this resulting majority of the people fail to buy it and rich to access it, so almost 80% of the people has no land, and 20 % has access land. This also not yet addressed and still the tears and sediments of the people in the grassroots it is land, land has been a critical debate in South Africa. This left of the people in the society with wounds and desperate. Also, other forces is commodification of markets and foods. This has been a world problem, many people lost foods because of commodification. And sentiments of the people is hunger, because they can’t affords the prices of foods.
Covid 19 came to manifest the problem of Capitalism
Covid 19 it is not a causes of inequality and poverty in SA, it just come to justify that our system of capitalist’s economy has wrong and failed to take care our services and life. And this we can connect to the happened in South Africa has long history even before the coming of Covid 19 people suffers from the poverty and inequality. It has been a year of fee must falls, xenophobia and demonstration of workers under NUMSA for fighting for their salaries and good conditions.
In nutshell, what happened is South Africa (SA) it was not good, but we don’t take for granted to call people looters and thief’s, but important is to rethink the new system of economy which will embrace the majority. Because what we see now the policy and law of capitalism favor minority and left majority in abyss poverty and hunger. We need to build a justice society.
Nassoro Kitunda (Political Economy Analyst- Tanzania) Also, Assistant lecturer, in Unity of Sociology and Social work (Mwenge Catholic University-Tanzania). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org : Twitter: @nassorokitunda