Business Day, 22 May 2008

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As the xenophobia-related violence spread to other parts of the country yesterday, the African National Congress Youth League came out strongly against the attacks warning that action would be taken if any of its members were involved. The youth league also condemned using the ANC’s name or singing “revolutionary songs” while perpetrating attacks against foreign nationals. “These incidents must be condemned in the strongest possible manner and no effort must be spared to bring the perpetrators to book,” it said. “We are under no illusion that opportunist criminal elements and agent provocateurs have found fertile ground to advance their criminal and counterrevolutionary agendas.” At least 42 people have been killed and thousands of others have been displaced in more than a week of violence by armed mobs in townships throughout Gauteng. The youth league statement is of particular significance as the violence in the townships is seemingly being driven by scores of young men singing Awuleth’ Umshini Wami — the anthem sung by ANC president Jacob Zuma. The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association also said attacks were politically motivated. “Some parties do not have methods, because historically they have campaigned on a tribal basis … (so the) only way to maintain some basis is to wage tensions in society,” secretary Peter Ngubeni said. The South African Communist Party (SACP) said yesterday that it was not enough to “merely express” their strongest possible condemnations but the party also outlined short- and medium-term measures to solve the crisis. “One of the immediate short-term measures must be strong law enforcement as well as preventative legal measures in order to urgently contain the situation. “However, safety and security measures on their own are not adequate,” the SACP said in its online newsletter. “Our organisations, especially alliance and progressive community formations, need to engage communities in affected areas and beyond in order to isolate and deal with those behind these barbaric actions.” The party called for political and intelligence structures in the country to account for the mayhem.