South Africa: What The 2 Dudula Groups Are Calling For, Reactions8 months ago
Police in South Africa have said they are on alert in case of renewed clashes between Dudula groups and foreign street vendors plying their trade in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township.
Two groups – the Alexandra Dudula Movement and Operation Dudula – emerged recently and support seems to be growing among South African communities who feel marginalised.
There are concerns that their campaigns could lead to yet another outbreak of xenophobic violence in the country.
What do these groups want?
Dudula is a Zulu word which loosely means to “push back” or “drive back” – this gives a clue about what they want.
The groups are campaigning against undocumented foreign nationals who flocked to the township to use it as a base to earn a living mainly from Sandton, one of the richest commercial districts on the whole continent, which is just a few kilometres away.
Poverty is the main driver of the tension as South African residents believe that foreigners are the cause of many of their difficulties.
Though the two groups are separate, they have been inspired by the same cause – they both hope to drive out undocumented African migrants from their communities.
They believe by doing this they can ensure that jobs and business opportunities go to South Africans.
What is the difference between the two groups?
The Alexandra Dudula Movement was founded last year. The people behind it alleged that foreign nationals were illegally occupying government-issued housing in Alexandra, which is supposed to be for poor citizens.
But the campaign has expanded to include a call for all undocumented African migrants to stop trading in Alexandra.
In December 2022, the movement closed down all the stalls owned by foreign nationals who could not show the correct papers for running the business or a valid passport.
They then assigned the stalls to South Africans, such as Alexandra resident Wendy Sithole, who started selling vegetables when the foreigners were forced to stop, according to the BBC.
Not all of the group’s actions have been legal and the authorities are investigating cases of public disorder and intimidation.
Operation Dudula is based in Johannesburg’s Soweto township – more than 25km (16 miles) away on the other side of the city.
Founded by 33-year-old Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini, it came to prominence in June 2022 when Soweto residents marched through the township on what was called a “clean-up” operation.
It targeted suspected drug dealers and people who were alleged to be illegally occupying government property.
But just as in Alexandra, the group’s scope of interest has expanded.
Members now want the many foreign shop owners in South Africa to shut down their businesses and leave the country.
They also want small businesses, such as restaurants and shops, to only employ South African citizens. They believe these places overlook South Africans and hire undocumented migrants instead because they can pay them less than the minimum wage.
Authorities have said while this may happen in some places it is not a widespread problem.
Both groups have denied that their motives are xenophobic and argue that they are simply protecting the livelihoods of South Africans, something they say the African National Congress (ANC) government is failing to do.
They both say they are not affiliated with any political party.
What has the reaction been?
The premier of Gauteng province, the ANC’s David Makhura, has called on civil society groups to work with the government to promote peace and tolerance.
But some opposition parties are capitalising on the situation.
The newly formed Patriotic Alliance (PA) led by ex-prisoner Gayton McKenzie wants all undocumented migrants to leave the country.
In 2022, members of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema visited restaurants in Johannesburg to “inspect” the ratio of foreign workers employed and to put pressure on businesses to hire more South Africans.
The government has said that it is doing more to ensure the people have the correct documentation – but that will take a while.