The Economic Freedom Fighters learn with deep disappointment of the unprofessional and petty conduct of the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, in the Isipingo Refugee Camp. The EFF visited the camp and delivered mattresses and blankets to the refugees after finding out that they did not have any. Instead of applauding the charity expressed by EFF, the Minister verbally attacked the refugees and scolded them for accepting gifts from the EFF.
What the minister does not realise is that the EFF did not do this out of seeking to score political point. Upon hearing that EFF was coming, the refugees indicated that they did not have mattresses and blankets, that many were sleeping on the floor, including women and children. They also reported that they did not have enough food and requested the EFF to assist in the provision of adequate food.
During its visit to the Isipingo camp, the EFF saw Minister Bathabile Dlamini as people were telling their stories about police harassment and the general living conditions in the cmap. The CIC Julius Malema then invited the minister to join him on the back of the bakkie to also be part of the event to hear the refugees out. The CIC extended this invitation to the Minister because he understood that the difficulties faced by the refugees is not a matter to be reduced to partisan politics. However the Minister arrogantly refused and went on to inspect the camp surrounded by an entourage of police men.
Upon our departure, the Minister then verbally attacked and scolded the refugees for accepting help from the EFF and chased journalists away from the camp.
This conduct by Bathabile Dlamini confirms what the refugees have been saying, that they are dealing with a government of individuals who are hostile, rude and do not treat them with the necessary care. One of the refugees decried this by saying that government has put them in a camp to exacerbate the xenophobic treatment they tried to escape from communities they previously lived in.
Many charity organisations, including churches and other political formations have gone to the camps to extend an act of benevolence either in prayer, word of encouragement, or gifts. The EFF is part of society and always strives to be on the right side of history, thus it cannot be that its charitable benevolence can be undermined and dismissed by a Cabinet Minister. By so doing, the Minister has basically projected the ANC political insecurities on the refugees and expressed unnecessary anger that has nothing to do with them in the same way some South Africans blame them for their dreadful socio-economic conditions that are not of their doing.
The refugees would have accepted the same charity if it were from government or anyone who would have given it to them. Her aggression is misplaced and it stems from the fact that her government has neglected the refugees and left them to be harassed by police and the visit of the EFF has exposed this reality.
We condemn the Minister for her petty, unprofessional and disruptive conduct which only adds fear and suffering in a camp that is already experiencing them in excess. It is surprising that journalist are not reporting the fact that EFF asked the Minister, as a government official, to join in and listen to the refugees and she refused. This act alone should have told volumes about her lack of the necessary political maturity to rise above partisan politics and be the Minister even to those in the opposition.
We shall be visiting the second camp in Chatsworth tomorrow (14h00) and will continue to highlight the plight of the refugees with the aim of ensuring that they are not subjected to yet another inhumane treatment. The EFF will never apologise for being of charity and speaking truth to power, even if it is unpalatable.
We call on journalists and all South Africans not to trust government to take care of the refugees on its own. Let us all visit the refugee camps day and night to ensure that they are not alone, isolated and abused by the police. The South African ministers have never cared about their own citizens and they must not be trusted that they can care about foreign nationals.
ISSUED BY THE ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS