A new South African political party wants the government to expel all foreigners, claiming they bring crime into the country and are responsible for high unemployment. While it’s unlikely the African Basic Movement party will win big in next year’s general elections, its emergence is a sign, analysts say, that the global wave of nationalist, populist politics has come to the Rainbow Nation.
Party leader Thembelani Ngubane says his party, which he started last year, has gained tens of thousands of members and signatories to its petition to deport all foreigners by year’s end. Those numbers could not be verified.
The party recently registered to compete in next year’s elections, but critics question whether its platform adheres to South Africa’s progressive, inclusive constitution, and whether the party’s position leans dangerously towards hate speech, which is illegal in South Africa.
“We should get rid of all foreigners who are here, they are taking South Africa’s jobs,” Ngubane told VOA. “They sleep with our sisters, they give them children, they get married to them, so that they get South African citizenship. When they get that, they abandon them…. So South Africa is like chaos. And they are criminals, we can’t catch them, they have no fingerprints, because they are from other countries.”
About two million foreign nationals live in South Africa, most from neighboring countries such as Zimbabwe, according to the most recent census. However, the actual number, which includes undocumented residents, is thought to be higher.
This rise in xenophobic politics is extremely worrying, says Sharon Ekambaram, who heads the refugee and migrant rights program for Lawyers for Human Rights. She warns it could spur yet another outburst of xenophobic violence, given that South Africa periodically sees such violent, deadly clashes between disillusioned citizens and foreign nationals.
“I can’t even articulate how dangerous this is for our democracy,” she said, talking about the emergence of Ngubane’s party. “This is clearly a group that is racist, they’re xenophobic.… And I don’t think there’s a place for those kinds of people in our country. And I think that it’s serious that the electoral commission needs to investigate, if they have actually registered as a political party, whether that is constitutional for a party, because it makes space for someone who’s a fascist, or a racist to form a party."
Moreover, Ekambaram adds, the party’s premises are flawed: researchers have found that foreign nationals are often job creators, and are not disproportionately responsible for violent crime.
ANC opens the door
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says he, too, is concerned, but not that the ABM will beat the juggernaut ruling African National Congress at the polls. What worries him, he says, is that their extreme views are opening the window for other nationalist beliefs to enter the mainstream. Mathekga believes the ANC’s numerous corruption scandals and its inability to reduce unemployment and poverty during its two decades in power also make it easier to challenge them.
“I’m not surprised,” he told VOA about the party’s rise. “South Africa’s politics is going in that direction, of populism. You have always had that level of leftist populism that has been there within South African politics. But the thing that is very, very different is the emergence of nationalist populism. Usually, these are the thoughts that you could just dismiss as the thoughts by loonies. Each and every society has those people on the outlier (fringes), who push these kinds of ideas. If the center of your politics have got legitimacy, if the party that is in power has got legitimacy, is accountable, it is doing things properly, that does not allow that kind of populism to try to compete, to be at the center.”
Mathekga added the global rise of populist politics makes it easier for groups like the ABM to emerge.
Pointing to the United States, ABM leader Ngubane praises U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” illegal immigration policy, saying he shares the American leader’s views.
“Donald Trump is putting Americans first,” he said. “Here, we are putting South Africans first. You see, you cannot let your child sleep on an empty stomach and feed your neighbor’s child. That is the problem. Here in South Africa, our children sleep on empty stomachs. Our neighbors like Pakistanis, Chinese, they sleep on full stomachs. We don’t want that.”
On Politics: Democrats Continue to Gain as More Midterm Races Are Finalized
Good Wednesday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today.
• What seemed like a mixed midterm result for the G.O.P. has turned more grim as Democrats continue to pick up seats in the House and narrow the Republican hold on the Senate. Read about the stronger Democratic gains.
• President Trump is considering firing Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of Homeland Security who has long been a target of the president’s displeasure, according to three people close to him. Read about the staff shake-up.
• There were conflicting reports on Tuesday on whether Mira Ricardel, a deputy national security adviser, had been fired. But there is no question that the first lady, Melania Trump, no longer wants her at the White House.
• Mr. Trump issued a blistering personal attack against President Emmanuel Macron of France, and sought to defend his decision not to visit a cemetery of American soldiers while in France because of rain. Read more on his comments.
• With a recount underway in the Florida governor’s race, Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee, is back on the campaign trail a week after conceding the election. Though the outcome is unlikely to change, Mr. Gillum has made it clear he is not going away.
• Representative Kyrsten Sinema’s victory marked the first time a Democrat has been elected to the Senate from Arizona since 1988. Read more about Ms. Sinema, and here are six takeaways from her historic race.
• On an otherwise bleak election night for North Dakota Democrats, Ruth Buffalo became the first Native American Democrat elected to the state legislature, unseating the architect of the very law tribes had feared would disenfranchise them.
• As freshman orientation for new members of Congress began, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez led activists in a protest in Nancy Pelosi’s office. The move is an early notice to Democratic leaders that the new House may be divided.
• Despite a dismal election last week, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California looks set to become House minority leader. Read more about Mr. McCarthy — and his chances of securing the new role.
• For weeks before the midterms, Mr. Trump warned ominously about the threat from a caravan of migrants streaming toward the United States border. But only a week after the election, he has dropped the issue almost entirely.
• An independent bipartisan commission concluded in a sharply critical report that strained forces and budget shortfalls have cast doubt on the Pentagon’s strategy to confront global threats, in a challenge to Mr. Trump’s commitment to support a strong military.
• Mr. Trump’s trade war is stoking an internal fight among his top economic advisers, with officials sparring over the White House’s approach to dealing with China and other trading partners. Here’s more on the feuding.
Today’s On Politics briefing was compiled by Margaret Kramer in New York.
Check back later for On Politics With Lisa Lerer, a nightly newsletter exploring the people, issues and ideas reshaping the political world.
Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brexit deal: Tory ministers meet to decide fate of agreement – Politics live
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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Putting on Ayers
Today in 5 Lines
President Donald Trump is reportedly considering replacements for several senior-level administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Chief of Staff John Kelly. One name being floated as Kelly’s replacement is Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s current chief of staff.
CNN filed a lawsuit against Trump and several White House aides, after the administration suspended CNN journalist Jim Acosta’s press pass last week.
Trump named Neomi Rao, administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, to fill the seat vacated by Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hate crimes in America increased by 17 percent last year, even while overall violent crime fell very slightly, according to newly released data from the FBI.
At least 44 people are dead, and more than 200 people are still missing, as the Camp Fire—now the most destructive fire in California history—continues to blaze through the northern part of the state.
Today on The Atlantic
This Is a Problem: President Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week. The move is unconstitutional, argues former deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo.
‘A New Kind of Centrism’: Even though they had some high-profile losses, progressives still see last week’s midterms as a victory for progressive thinking. (Elaine Godfrey)
Young and Blue: The House of Representatives is an “unfriendly environment for rising talent,” reports Elaina Plott. Why is it so hard for young Democrats to get leadership roles there?
Doomed Policies: President Trump reportedly plans to fire Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen for weak enforcement of his immigration policies. But Nielsen isn’t the reason why they’re failing, writes David A. Graham.
Becoming Michelle Obama: The former first lady’s new memoir is a strikingly intimate look at life as a political spouse. (Hannah Giorgis)
What We’re Reading
Oops: A poorly designed ballot might have swayed the midterm elections in Florida. Here’s how. (Dana Chisnell and Whitney Quesenbery, The Washington Post)
Bigger Than They Thought: With all the votes counted, the Democrats had a larger win this year than Republicans did in 2010. (Matthew Yglesias, Vox)
A New American Revolution: Revolutions have always shaped American society, starting in 1776. In 2018, the left has tried to stage a new revolution—one modern America doesn’t need, argues Victor Davis Hanson. (The National Review)
Mapping Fire: California’s wildfires are still raging. Keep track of them. (Lauren Tierney, Laris Karklis, and Tim Meko, The Washington Post)
We’re always looking for ways to improve The Politics & Policy Daily. Concerns, comments, questions, typos? Let us know anytime here.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.
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