The leader of a South African opposition party is making waves for calling on mobs to turn their anger over continued economic disenfranchisement on the country’s wealthy white minority as opposed to foreign African nationals.
Johannesburg has been plagued of late by mob violence targeting businesses owned by foreigners from other African countries, Newsweek reports. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the violence, but the leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party took things one step further.
EFF leader Julius Malema said the mob should turn its attention to what he said was the true source of their problems: South Africa’s ruling class, its white minority. And he pointed the finger at the country’s ruling political party, the African National Congress (ANC), as being enablers.
“Our anger is directed at wrong people,” Malema wrote on Twitter, according to Newsweek. “Like all of us, our African brothers & sisters are selling their cheap labour for survival. The owners of our wealth is white monopoly capital; they are refusing to share it with us & the ruling party #ANC protects them.”
Malena went on to say that whites shouldn’t complain as they had “created” “the mess” the country was experiencing.
“I think these whites must for a second keep quiet because we are dealing with a mess created by them,” Malena tweeted. “They are the ones who created this situation by telling us that we are poor & unemployed because ”foreigners” took our jobs. We are fighting for cramps #OneAfricaIsPossible.”
As South Africa’s Sunday Times reports, the violence directed at foreign national business owners began on Sunday in Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, with widespread looting, violence and protests.
The unequal distribution of wealth despite the end of apartheid over two decades ago has led to increased resentment, especially among the disenfranchised.
As Newsweek reports:
The “white monopoly capital” referenced in Malema’s tweet has long been a salient issue in South African politics. It generally refers to the unequal distribution of national wealth, which benefits white citizens and has its roots in the racist white minority apartheid rule of South Africa which ended in 1994.
Steven Friedman, a political science professor at the University of Johannesburg, told Newsweek that the apartheid-era white population “used the law and severe restrictions on black business activity to ensure that they monopolized wealth and economic power.”
And while opponents of Malema have dismissed him as just trying to exploit racial division for political gain, Friedman told Newsweek the problem is a very real one.
“Blacks might control politics but whites still dominate the economy,” the professor said. “This reality is exploited by some politicians and is clearly not a reason to threaten violence. But it is the reality which is divisive, not the fact that people draw attention to it.”