Socialist Party of Nigeria explains why there are so many poor in South Africa and Nigeria – Capitalism


The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) hereby condemns the raging xenophobic attacks in South Africa which has affected Nigerians alongside other African migrants in South Africa. Some have been killed and many injured while shops have been destroyed and looted in the recurrent violence. Reprisal or retributive actions in South Africa and possibly in Nigeria and elsewhere can further worsen the cycle of violence.

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There have been reports of the South African police supporting the violence or looking the other way. Tragically also, there does not appear to have been any effective measures so far taken by the Nigerian government through its High Commission and Consulate in South Africa to safeguard Nigerians and provide succour to victims of the violence.


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The SPN condemns the Cyril Ramaphosa/ANC government in South Africa and the Buhari/APC government in Nigeria for their lip-service towards protecting the lives and properties of Nigerian migrants and other African nationals from attacks. At the same time, we recognise that there can be no trust in either governments to take any effective action. This is because, regardless of their phoney outrage at the attacks, apart from the fact that they have a whole lot to benefit from the division and disunity of the working masses of both countries, they are also responsible for the problems that are driving this violence.

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First, it is the ruinous anti-poor policies of all capitalist governments in Nigeria since independence and particularly since 1999 that is responsible for the collapse in living standards and absolute lack of decent jobs and opportunity which is forcing layers of the working class, middle class and youth in Nigeria to run out of the country in pursuit of greener pasture. Particularly since 2015 when the Buhari APC government came into power under a slogan of change, the fortunes of the country has further plummeted as a result of the regime’s implementation of capitalist policies which has further driven down employment, increased job losses and deprivation for the vast majority. While consequently Nigeria has effectively become the poverty capital of the world, the other side of the coin is that Nigeria is home to the richest back person from Africa. Suffice to add that this paradox actually defines the real nature and character of the capitalist system as an unjust and inequitable system. This means that running out of the country has now become the only option open to many. A majority of Nigerian immigrants in South Africa, Europe and America are escapees from the hellish conditions of poverty, lack of jobs and opportunity as well as the daily insecurity and violence in Nigeria. While the world is focused on the xenophobic attacks in South Africa at the moment, thousands more of Nigerians and African nationals are undertaking dangerous journey through the Sahara desert and drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in the hope of reaching European shores.

In a similar vein, it is decades of ruinous anti-poor policies of apartheid era and post-apartheid African National Congress (ANC) governments that is responsible for the inequality and mass poverty that grips the mass majority of the black South African populace. After 25 years of self-government, all the hope and aspiration of the black population has been shattered with the ANC becoming a tool for the implementation of anti-poor capitalist policies which has created a new black capitalist elite while driving the mass majority of blacks further down the ladder. The Cyril Ramaphosa ANC government is simply a continuation of the ruinous past, only the clique at the top has changed. As a result of the despair and desperation and with a South African labour leadership not mounting an effective struggle to unite the working class and find a lasting way out of the crisis, the poorest sections and potentially even layers of the workers and middle classes of the South African population are being led erroneously to believe that African nationals including Nigerians are responsible for their plight.

This is much like we saw happen first in Ghana in 1969 when Nigerians were forcefully expelled from Ghana and secondly in Nigeria in 1983 during the infamous “Ghana must go” episode following the end of the oil boom of the 70s. Over two million Ghanaians and other African nationals were forcefully expelled by the Shagari government.


All the above therefore means that in the real sense of the word, the poor South African workers and youth who are involved in these xenophobic attacks are victims of the same conditions of capitalism. For us in the SPN therefore, the only way out is for a united struggle of the working classes of both countries to challenge and defeat their capitalist ruling classes and enthrone a workers-led government armed with socialist policies.

South Africa’s economy and Nigeria’s economy are big enough to provide a decent and better life for a majority of their populations. Officially about 40% of South Africans of working age are either unemployed or given up looking for work. Over 60% of Black South Africans live in poverty, 25 years after the end of the Apartheid regime. But the end of Apartheid did not end capitalism and the insatiable greed of the capitalist elite. Even the World Bank describes South Africa as “the most unequal country in the world by any measure” (Financial times, May 2, 2019). Therefore, these xenophobic attacks in South Africa and the daily insecurity and violence in Nigeria itself show the urgency for mass struggle to develop and mass workers parties built to end this unjust system. Otherwise the alternative is barbarism. We call on working people in both countries (South Africa and Nigeria) to get organised and channel their anger at the capitalist ruling elite who implement policies that are responsible for job losses and poverty. Under a workers-led government armed with socialist policies, the key sectors of the economies of both countries will be placed under public ownership and democratic management. It is only by doing this that it can be possible to begin to provide decent jobs, quality public education and health care and a living wage for all.

Against the above background, therefore rather than call for attacks on South African businesses and even nationals as the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) appears to have been doing because of legitimate anger over the fate of Nigerian nationals in South Africa, the appropriate response ought to be for NANS to begin to lead a mass struggle involving nationwide lecture boycotts and mass protest to condemn the xenophobic attacks and also, very crucially, to place demands on the Nigerian government to begin to provide affordable and quality education, decent jobs and opportunities which is the reason many Nigerians are running out of the country in droves only to be slaughtered or sold as slaves in Libya and injured or killed in xenophobic attacks. We need to place the responsibility for the blood of Nigerians being shed both within the country and abroad where it appropriately belongs, which is on the capitalist ruling elite in Nigeria, South Africa and internationally!

Likewise, the labour movement in Nigeria ought to take the same step by calling solidarity marches to condemn the xenophobic attacks while also placing the blame on the government whose ruinous policies is responsible for the influx of able bodied Nigerians abroad in search of greener pasture. With such mass rallies, labour can begin to build the momentum for a 24-hour general strike and mass protest for implementation of the N30, 00 minimum wage, reversal of electricity tariff hike, for decent jobs for all and investment in public education and healthcare, nationalisation of the keys sectors of the economy under democratic workers control and management etc. We therefore call on the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the United Labour Congress (ULC) and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to immediately convey a meeting/conference composed of labour, students and youth activists as well as socialists and all pro-working people’s organizations and parties to discuss what the appropriate response of the labour and students movement in both Nigeria and South Africa should be to these attacks.

Abiodun Bamigboye                                                                         

Chinedu Bosah

Acting National Chairperson and National Secretary respectively


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