AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Mgr. Tlhagale's appeal: "No to war between the poor, between migrants and South African citizens"

Thursday, 6 June 2019

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "The conflict between migrants, asylum seekers and South Africans is at the instigation of the latter who feel frustrated and disappointed by their own political leadership", says His Exc. Mgr. Buti Tlhagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg and at the head of the Office for Migrants and Refugees of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC), in his report entitled "To demolish the separation wall: reconciliation between migrants, refugees and South Africans. Biblical Perspective".
"The pain and suffering of South Africans stem from their craving for land, housing, employment and education for their children. Abject poverty has become a formidable barrier to human progress", said Mgr. Tlhagale. "And so, migrants cannot be made the scapegoat of the shortcomings of the South African State. The conflict between migrants and South Africans is a case of the poor fighting the poor instead of forging bonds of communion and solidarity among themselves with the explicit aim of overcoming their common predicament", says the Archbishop.
The South African Bishops have repeatedly denounced discrimination and violence against migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa, stressing that xenophobia is a poison that kills society (see Fides, 30/4/2019).
A shame for the country that boasts of having defeated apartheid thanks to the solidarity of the other African States and peoples who have offered asylum to the leaders of the South African liberation movement, many of whom are now in power. As Archbishop Tlhagale recalls, "South Africans have a strain of memory loss. Those who are today in leadership positions were once in exile and enjoyed the hospitality given to them. They used to condemn apartheid abuses from the rooftop but now there is a deafening silence concerning afrophobia in their own Country".
"There was a time when South Africans hailed some African leaders: Nkrumah, Lumumba, Haile-Selassie, Kaunda, Nyerere, Machel, Nujoma, Kenyatta, even Gaddafi. Today that adulation has just about disappeared and the people from the Countries of these former leaders are not given the respect they deserve. South Africans have simply forgotten that they once enjoyed hospitality in other Countries".
"What is the point of having one of the best Constitutions in the world and yet fail deplorably as a country to manage an ostensibly incipient ugly conflict between migrants and South Africans? This conflict needs to be stopped in its tracks before it causes incalculable harm to the country’s reputation", concludes Mgr. Tlhagale. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/6/2019)