Operation Dudula unravels and debunks the myth that political parties have unassailable monopoly to provide solutions to societal problems when in fact they are responsible for creating the problems we are grappling with. The growing disaffection or low voter turnout as recorded in the past three successive elections speak to the ever growing trust deficit between politicians and the masses, writes Masingita Mkhawana.
South Africans especially those finding themselves at the bottom of the pyramid, those entrapped in the urban fringes, townships, inner cities and so on have for the longest time been complaining about uncontrolled immigration, and in particular, foreign nationals finding their way into South African shores without the right set of documentation. They argue that these undocumented foreign nationals are responsible for a bulk of social ills bedeviling the contemporary South African society; among them, their involvement in (violent) crimes such as car jacks, heists and other robberies. They also accuse South African companies of tapping into these vulnerable groups (undocumented foreign nationals) to source workers who they pay slave wages.
As ordinary South Africans express their displeasure in respect of the question of immigration, the political elite have always brushed off these concerns as xenophobic and cajole these aggrieved South Africans to treat this rather sensitive issue with greater care. This is because those who sit at the apex of political authority in South Africa are not directly exposed to the concerns raised by ordinary South Africans; they reside in tranquil gated communities with heavily armed private securities. They are out of touch with reality so-to-speak. Some of them might actually be shareholders in the same companies accused of employing undocumented foreign nationals in more or less the same way they are shareholders in laborbrokering companies. Nothing is impossible with these policians. Who would have thought that the self professed voice of the poor and marginalized, EFF, would be fingered in the looting of the VBS bank? So much contradiction!
Nowithstanding attempts by the political elite to diffuse and quell the situation, the jaggernaut has continued gathering momentum and culminated into what is today known as Operation Dudula. Operation Dudula is a group that originated in Soweto (Gauteng) which has been visiting houses suspected to be drug dens, bordellos etc operated by foreign nationals and of course chaperoned by law enforcement in most instances. They also visit spaza shops accused of selling items that have long reached their sell-by dates, some selling counterfeit goods operated by foreign nationals. Videos have since circulated widely on social media of instances where the operation found spaza shop operators selling expired and counterfeit goods.
What Operation Dudula does is to lay bare the evidence to bear out the opprobrium that has been apportioned to foreign nationals on so many issues, to prove that the criticism levelled against foreign nationals is not just the case of unleashing vitriol against innocent immigrants who came into the country with good intentions; purely to eke out a living, but people who are involved in all manner of crimes including human trafficking and so on.
The operation had long been coming because the masses have long bewailed the degringolade in immigration control; how the ANC government has in the nearly three decades of its control of the state failed to deal with the issue of porosity of the South African borders. The former head of State Security Agency, Vusi Mavimbela, in his memoirs “Time is not a measure”, shares how the state failed to act on the intelligence gathered in relation to the question of borders and the influx of undocumented foreign nationals. Disturbingly, some within the governing party even whispered: “but these people also played an important role in the liberation of South Africa”, therefore we ought to show some leniency by tolerating lawlessness. We are stuck in this quagmire because of ANC’s gross ineptitude.
The operation has come under heavy criticism from political parties across the political landscape, most of them coalesce in dismissing Operation Dudula as a vigilante group that employs unlawful instruments and tactics to deal with problems. Part of what Operation Dudula does is to unravel and debunk the myth that political parties have unassailable monopoly to provide solutions to societal problems when in fact they are responsible for creating the problems we are grappling with. The growing disaffection or low voter turnout as recorded in the past three successive elections speak to the ever growing trust deficit between politicians and the masses. People have lost confidence in the system and want to explore alternatives and Operation Dudula being the case in point.
This is something that unsettles political parties like the EFF whose leader appears to be someone with an insatiable appetite for the limelight and wont to lord it over others; people of ‘superior logic’ as they normally call themselves. But beyond that, the operation also contradicts EFF’s outrageous or rather myopic stance on the question of immigration: while the EFF calls for a borderless African continent and that undocumented foreign nationals are welcome, Operation Dudula says all undocumented foreign nationals must go back whence they came. In the post elections analysis, some observers have argued that the EFF’s poor showing in the Local Government Elections in November 2021 could have been owing to its open border policy.
In ‘The President’s Keepers’, Jack Pauw details how some politicians are actually in the pockets of drug lords, people who are so deeply embedded in the underworld. The EFF, for example, is an organization that was funded and even paid for its registration at the IEC in 2014 through the proceeds of crime donated to them by Adrianno Mazzotti, a self-confessed cigarette smuggler and a very close chum of Julius Malema. An operation of this magnitude and nature is something that will obviously not be welcomed by politicians who flirt and cavort with cigarette smugglers and other criminals.
In understanding the immigration problematique, also important to note is that Action SA, a political party that was formed a fortnight before the last local government elections by Herman Mashaba, former executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg (under the Democratic Alliance) partly owes its popularity and sudden rise to political prominence to Mashaba’s stance on the question of undocumented foreign nationals which even gained him notoriety, he has been quite unequivocal that undocumented foreign nationals are not welcome while the ANC and EFF raked him over the coals for that.
South Africa has its own myriad of socio-economic problems such as vast inequality, a sea of poverty and unemployment. Strict control measures in relation to immigration must be put in place and also enforced to the letter. It must not just be fettered to the question of ‘documented versus undocumented’, people who come into South African borders, documented or otherwise, must satisfy authorities on their reasons for the visit, a standard requirement followed in literally all modern African states so as to avoid a situation where people come into our shores to become beggars at the robots. Failure to do that we will just be waiting for the ticking time bomb to detonate soon.