GOB!G Quote of the Day

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

South African economy built on cheap black labour

South Africa is built by black foreigners. Cheap immigrant black labour. The very foreigners that we are xenophobic towards. The area that I live in, Mooikloof Ridge (Pretoria East) is under hefty development of countless security complexes, including golf estates and the like.

The labourers that work the erection of new complexes in my estate and the surroundings are all but South African. I've personally interacted with a number of them. They speak, predominantly, SeSotho of Lesotho, Shangaan of Mozambigue and Shona of Zimbabwe - languages which I grew up around. They build our South Africa. Our beloved country and our bounty-full economy - which, us all South Africans benefit from in so many ways.

But the conditions they live in are, if not non-existent, appalling. In Pretoria East, adjacent to Mooikloof Ridge, they live, literally, under trees in a veld inside makeshift dog-fitting plastic 'houses'. I just find that disgusting that somebody hired these willing, laborious and dedicated black people and then never bothered to consider providing them with livable humane accomodation - even if it was some of those for-hire shacks. They get water from a near-by stream to drink, cook and that's where they also wash - as we see them naked in the afternoons as we drive by cozzily through these ripping cold.

I can't doubt that the employer couldn't procure the labour of some of the lazy South Africans who would be dead first than seen laying a brick (I'm generalising here). I have no doubt, again, that the employer is holding a gun to these foreigners' heads as they know they are (most of them) in the country illegally and have no recourse. At least the one thing that they don't rave about is going on strike endlessly whilst the economy kneels down. The exact reasons why they should be treated better than they are.

I worry about this for one reason: The way one treats others, or their guests, is a reflection of their moral fabric or the non-existence of it. So if these bunch of South African contracting companies treat this fellow neighbouring South Africans in this inhumane fashion - albeit shocking underpayment - what does that make of them? What does that make of us South Africans? Especially when looked through a foreign mirror? I bet as better, more powerful African country we wouldn't care less right?

I'll be first to admit that illegal immigrants should be helped back home for flouting the rule of law. But at the same time, I'll support the development of the South African economy but not at the inhumane exploit of others, especially if such people are just helpless and willing to do the work that some unemployed South African wouldn't do.

Build on SA. Bouy on SA economy. But this brothers will one day despise you as they do that other super power.

"Judge of a man by his questions, rather than by his answers." - Voltaire


Steve Hayes said...

What can I say?

I'll bet that they are probably better educated than a lot of south Africans who despise the work they do too.

Heartwarmer said...

Eish Izz. Catch22 there.

Do you know who's building the estates in question? You know a lot of the time we see some of these injustices happening all over the place and what do we do about it? Discuss on blog? Which may be useful, if you perhaps name and shame these property development companies. But why not take it a step further. Why not write to the said company complaining of their human rights abuses?

Israel Izz Mlambo said...

Steve, you are right. I think in South Africa, we need, especially in the sectors that are prime to building the economy or service, we all need to be willing to sweat. What's Proudly South African if it is all build by foreigners. Shouldn't we perhaps call it Proudly Foreign until we work the tools as South Africans? The public sector is a lot more appalling in the culture of service.

Heartwarmer, you have just warmed my heart by those suggestions. Naming and shaming them can do something. But writing to them won't touch their pockets at all. It's by hitting their profits where you can really make them listen.

Whilst at the Sunday Times, I named and exposed the mass developer for, M&T Developments for environmental abuses, but the minimal bad publicity amounted to zil.

Sword Inc said...

You can not change the world, its that cruel Mr. Mlambo. All we do is watch and then go have dinner and a cosy bed. (stolen from the Movie, Hotel Rwanda)

Nevertheless, you could always give those folks that bread in your fridge that will eventually end up in a pick it up truck. Or still, let them do your garden. But be careful, you might end up with a housebreaking case in your hands.
Heartwarmer comment is completely inline as a South African, but coming from an Illegal immigrant P.O.V, its something else. Better sleep under the bridge than bite the hand that feeds you. Comprede!?

Israel Izz Mlambo said...

I agree with you Sword. In large part. But I don't think having xenophobic sentiments towards such people will make anything of anything except for moral animosity, even physical.

But yes, one could help by being more action oriented than talk shop. But at the same time, we got to acknowledge that dialogue, like thoughts, is the ancestor of action.

But on that Hotel Rwanda saying, you hit a nerve.

Heartwarmer said...

Argh sword. Is that you general attitude?
Imagine if we all thought that way. That we can't change things...where would this world be.
I know it was just a movie, but Pay it Forward just illustrated how even little people can change the world.
So that's a movie, South Africa is a good example of how people with a common cause can change the status quo.
Come on guys...

Israel Izz Mlambo said...

Heartwarmer, glad to hear that somebody is so positive and upbeat about not only South Africa, but the world. I'm behind your attitude. The little that's done by individuals, comes together as bits and pieces to make a huge ripple.