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Xenophobic attacks: Nigeria sends delegation to Pretoria

Politics
Pretoria – South Africa’s International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Monday, condemned the recent spate of xenophobic violence in South Africa, after a lengthy meeting with a high level delegation of Nigerian government officials, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama in Pretoria.

"I used the opportunity of this meeting to brief Minister Onyeama on the recent unfortunate violent incidents affecting foreign nationals in South Africa, including Nigerian nationals. In this regard, I highlighted the South African Government’s condemnation of these incidents, emphasised that no single death has occurred during this unfortunate period,” Nkoana-Mashabane said at a joint press briefing with the Nigerian delegation.

“I reiterated South Africa’s condemnation of all forms of discrimination based on race, religion, sex or creed, including xenophobia or 'Afrophobia'.

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South Africa's International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane shares a lighter moment with Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and (retired) Lieutenant-General Abdulrahman Dambazau (in grey suit) after a press briefing in Pretoria. PHOTO: ANA
Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama addressing a joint press briefing on xenophobia in Pretoria. PHOTO: ANA  

I further affirmed South Africa’s constitutional democracy which enshrines human rights, Bill of Rights, democratic values, human dignity, equality and freedoms.”

Nkoana-Mashabane said during the meeting at the international relations department’s OR Tambo Building headquarters, she had also dispelled the notion that the incidents against foreign nationals in South Africa were targeted at Nigerian nationals only because other foreign nationals were also affected.

“I assured my counterpart [Onyeama] that the South African government was fully in control of the situation and several interventions including meetings with diplomatic community and émigré communities, security operations, policy and legislation reviews were taking place,” she said.

"We both condemned these violent incidents against foreign nationals and the destruction of property and reiterated our call for heightened law enforcement. We noted with concern the inciting statements or pronouncements including fake news peddled by certain individuals, political actors and other interest and pressure groups. In this regard, we called for an immediate stop to this.”

Last month, several foreign nationals, particularly Nigerian nationals based in South Africa came under violent attacks from members of the South African community who accuse the foreigners of peddling drugs and taking their jobs. Several shops were looted in Gauteng province.

Nkoana-Mashabane said both the South African and Nigerian delegations at the meeting had agreed to continue working together and to enhance their diplomatic consultation on this matter and “many other matters relevant to the bilateral relations”.

The ministers acknowledged the pivotal role played by the Nigeria-South Africa Business Council in promoting and strengthening private sector participation in each other’s economies.

Both countries, being economic powerhouses on the continent, have massive investments in each other and ongoing trade relations.

“We took note of more than 120 South African businesses operating in Nigeria in telecommunications, mining, aviation, banking and finance, retail, property, entertainment and fast foods industries. They [Nigerian officials] also noted and welcomed Nigeria’s small, micro and medium enterprises, as well as big companies like Dangote Sephaku Cement that are entering the South African market,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

Commitments were made on Monday to ensure that all the signed thirty four sectoral agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) between Pretoria and Abuja are fully implemented.

President Jacob Zuma had a “successful” state visit to Nigeria in March last year which resolved to elevate the bi-national commission to a head of state level.

To that effect, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to travel to South Africa at a date yet to be announced to further cement the relations.

Onyeama announced that Buhari, who has been on medical vacation in London, was back in Nigeria and had resumed his duties.

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