By Victor Nyakey – Johannesburg
Foreign nationals living in the republic of South Africa have formed a trade union. South African United Foreigner Trade Union (SAUFTU) was launched in Randburg Johnnesburg.
According to a press release issued by the union?s national executive committee and signed by its president Salman Khan and secretary general Jerry Mashamba,though the idea of establishing SAUFTU has been on their schema for a while now its unveiling was necessitated as earnestness in the wake of recent dislike of foreigners and the growing tension between South Africans and foreigncommunities.
The official inauguration of SAUFTU brought together foreign nationals from all walks of life.
It will be recalled that about three weeks ago at least seven foreign nationals were killed, scores injured and over 2000 displaced in a widespread xenophobic attacks in Durban and Johannesburg.Foreign owned shops were also attacked and looted by some black South Africans.
According to the attackers, the high unemployment rate in South Africa is caused by the influx of foreigners whom they accused of stealing their jobs.
However, it emerged that most of the victims of this vicious xenophobia are foreigners who fend for themselves ? they established barbering and cobbler shops, hairdressing salons, as well as tuck shops that sell groceries.
It also came to light that thebeneficiaries of such foreign investments are largely locals, who patronize these services and some end up working in those shops as salesclerks.
Meanwhile, through the intermediation of President Jacob Zuma, civil society organizations, the media and the South African legislature, calm has been restored. Some displaced foreign nationals have so far been reintegrated into the local communities whereas others have been repatriated to their home countries.
Below is the unedited press release by SAUFTU:
In an unprecedented move on 22, April 2015, the formation of the South African United Foreigner Trade Union (SAUFTU) came to being. It marks the beginning of what the foreign community in the republic of South Africa has been waiting for ? a united front that is aimed at fighting for the rights and privileges of foreign nationals resident in South Africa, promoting a peaceful co-existence between local and foreign citizens, educating foreign nationals to be law abiding and encouraging them to be industrious as well. Though the founding of SAUFTU has been on our drawing board for quite some time now its structural formation was necessitated as urgency in the wake of recent xenophobia and the growing tension between South Africans and foreigncommunities.
A meeting was held in Randburg by the representatives of the following countries:
Kenya, DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the Arab League Nations (made up of 15 Countries), Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Zambia and Somali. (Tanzania, Cameroon, Kashmiris, Omanis, Ugandans, Cote d?Ivoire sent their apologies but supported the objective of the meeting through emails).
The present delegates overwhelmingly agreed that fragmented foreign communities and NGOs cannot continue to defend and protect its national individuals in silos. There is an urgent need to form a collective body to represents the concerns of the foreign worker in South Africa and provide the much neededplatform by serving as a mouth piece.
The fundamental principle of the SAUFTU formation is to advocate, defend, and litigate human right abuses and exploitation and also to engage government and civil societies to find a practical way of foreigners? social and economic integration and re-integration into South Africa.
SAUFTU?s pledge is to continue to endeavor to find better ways of communication and cooperation between foreign and local communities and seeks to work along with the government to implement acceptable migration and neutralization policies. SAUFTU will also assist the South African government by enlightening diaspora communities? countries conflicts and best possible way of their peaceful resolutions so refugees and asylum seekers may return to their homeland.
SAUFTU membership is open to all foreigners legally resident in South Africa with nominal membership fees. Honoree and associate membership will also be offered, media houses, NGO, embassies and international bodies will be given an observer status in SAUFTU.
SAUFTU?s scope of work and activities:
a. To establish a South African United Foreigners Trade Union representing foreigners living, working and owning businesses in South Africa;
b. To establish social cohesion amongst foreigners and South Africans;
c. Forge relationship between organizations, associations, forums from different member states;
d. To advocate for social, economic, political and human rights and of foreigners;
e. To be a partner with the South African government in integrating foreigners into the South African community;
f. establishing a working relationship with all stakeholders;
g. To be an umbrella organization for all the member states;
h. Conflict resolution and voluntarily repatriation of foreigners.
i. To encourage dialogues between foreigner?s association, South Africa government and civil society.
An interim structure has been set up to facilitate this as follows:
? All member states will be represented by individual countrymen/women at the National Executive Council, NEC which is the highest decision making body of the union.
? NEC meets thrice in a year.
? NEC will have three arms of its operation, The International Secretariat, Mancom and Council of province, all will report to the NEC.
? The NEC will have the following structure;
o Two Vice Presidents
o Secretary General
o Treasurer General
o Member States Representatives
o Chairperson of Council of Provinces
o Head of the Heads of Nine Provinces( Sauftu provincial offices head )
o Deputy Secretary General
? International Secretariat will have the following structure;
o Administration Secretary
o Secretary for Africa
o Secretary for Overseas
? Delegates present in the meeting elected Salman Khan President, and Jerry Mashamba – Secretary General (SG). The rest are Wesley B Ncube – Treasure, Liz Njoroge, – 1st vice President and Ahmed Habibullah as 2nd vice President.
Foreign Nationals In South Africa Launch Trade Union