Soth Africa’s security chief accused rightwngers linked to the formr apartheid government of fanning anti-foreign riots over the past two weeks that have left 42 dead and thousands driven from their homes. Manala Manzini said: “We have information to the effect that elements that were involved in the pre-1994 election violence are in fact the same elements that have re-startedd contacts with people that they used in the past.” He asserted that members of the Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party(IFP) were playing a role in the anti-foreign outbreaks.
Even as he spoke, mobs attacked Somali and Zmbabwean areas whose homes and shops were looted and frequently burned down. Many critics are blaming the ineffectual behavior of President Mbeki as a contributing factor in allowing the riots to spread. He hesitated to send in the armed forces or to reinforce police at the first sign of trouble, and his continued support for President Mugabe of Zimbabwe sent a message that he doesn’t care what happens to Zimbabweans, whether in their homeland or in South Africa.
African National Congress secretary General Gwede Mantashe pointed out to his fellow South Africans that during their own fight for freedom, many African nations stood behind them, accepted South African children in their schools and gave liberally to end apartheid. He expressed his disappointment that generosity was being repaid with violence and destruction.
The security chief undoubtdly has raised an important point as to the possibility supporters of apartheid have contributed to the violence, but the evidence is clear most rioters are driven by fear their jobs are being taken away by foreigners. South Africa still has a large unemployed work force and it doesn’t take much to spark such a group into blaming outsiders for their inability to obtain jobs or decent housing.