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The problem with Shivambu exceeds his penchant for thuggery.

The man is also a crude chauvinist. Also in March, Shivambu sank to a new low when he questioned Malusi Gigaba's citizenship. In a deeply xenophobic society this was a grossly reckless act.

As many commentators noted at the time, Shivambu's xenophobia had disturbing similarities with Donald Trump's encouragement of xenophobic prejudices against Barack Obama in the form of the "birther movement".

Around the world, xenophobia has become the central dividing line separating the right from the left.

We need to talk about Floyd Shivambu, especially in light of his latest attack, on National Treasury official Ismail Momoniat. In March Shivambu attacked a journalist on the street outside parliament. This was an act of brazen thuggery, and one that expressed a clear disregard for a basic principle of all genuine left-wing politics - respect for media freedom. As no less a figure than Karl Marx famously insisted, "the free press is the ubiquitous vigilant eye of a people's soul".Some of the young people making their politics on Twitter like to indulge in the lazy conflation of thuggery with radicalism. Those of us who lived through the civil war of the late 1980s know better. There are times when armed resistance to oppression is necessary. But violence always does deep damage to a society, and it is almost always the most vulnerable who are hit the hardest. To present thuggery as somehow radical in a democracy is a deeply reckless form of politics that is more or less always compli...

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