Xenophobia: S’Africa regrets FG recall of envoys | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Xenophobia: S’Africa regrets FG recall of envoys

Posted: Apr 27, 2015 at 12:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Funmi Falobi and Dotun Akano (With agency reports)

The South African government has slammed the Federal Government for recalling its high commissioners from the country, following the recent spate of xenophobic attacks that left at least seven people dead.

Uche Ajulu-Okeke

Uche Ajulu-Okeke

A statement by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Aminu Wali, on Saturday, said Acting High Commissioner, Martin Cobham and Deputy High Commissioner Uche Ajulu-Okeke have been recalled to the country for consultations on the attacks.

Wali acknowledgeing that South African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the attacks.

South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson, Clayson Monyela lamented the decision to withdraw the two, describing it “an unfortunate and regrettable step.

“If this action is based on the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of our country, it would be curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode for whatever agenda,” he said.

South Africa has come under scathing criticism by several governments, including China, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, for failing to protect foreigners from armed mobs; although it now insists it has quelled the violence.

Nigeria is the only country to have recalled its ambassador, Monyela said.

A Nigerian delegation at an Africa-Asia Summit in Indonesia alongside South African Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, last week, had made Abuja’s intention to withdraw its ambassadors known.

South Africa however says it remains committed to creating a strong bond and bilateral relations with Nigeria, following which “when 84 of our citizens perished on Nigerian soil, we did not blame the Nigerian government for the deaths and more than nine months delay in the repatriation of the bodies of our fallen compatriots, or for the fact that when these bodies eventually returned, they were in a state that they could not be touched or viewed as required by our burial practice.

The 84 were part of a group of 116 killed when a guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations, headed by Pastor Temitope Joshua, collapsed in Lagos last September.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has been blamed for sparking the South African attacks with his comments about foreign workers.

Soldiers were deployed to flashpoints last week to prevent more violence.

Some blamed the attacks – which centred on Durban and Johannesburg – on unemployment and poor political leadership.

Thousands were displaced, with many Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Malawians and others returning home and others taking refuge in temporary government-operated shelters.

‘Ongoing xenophobia’

Some governments complained that South Africa was failing to do enough to protect foreign nationals, though it now insists it has quelled the violence.

The statement insists that the South African government and citizens have been “decisive and unequivocal in condemning and rejecting the attacks on foreign nationals” and insists that “through our interventions, relative calm and order has been restored”.

On Friday, President Zuma met over 50 leaders of organisations representing foreign nationals in South Africa for talks about how to avert any repeat of the attacks.

Reacting to the statement by South African however, Jiti Ogunye, a political analyst said Nigeria was only expressing a very mild diplomatic displeasure.

According to him, this is not the first time such would happen in South Africa, “if anything is unfortunate and regrettable, it is that very act. This is a mild diplomatic row. Nigeria has not said it is closing its embassy, it has not said it’s closing South Africa mission in Nigeria. This recall is very mild; for me South Africa should have shown remorse by keeping quiet, sometimes silence is golden.

“The South Africa government has shamed the people of Africa, people of South Africa, dishonoured the history of support Africans had given to South Africa during the anti-apartheid struggle. They look up to South Africa as a rainbow nation where everybody will have sense of belonging, beckon of hope to African people.”

Ogunye explained that what happened in the country was that the end of apartheid has not given the South Africa people sense of freedom.

“What has been the economic, social transformation in South Africa people? Ordinary people are neglected, prone to socio-economic miserable, it is the failure of the government that makes the people behave the way they do because they look at their lives and it’s in mess.

“It is the government that has dishonoured the struggles of South Africans who had died, sacrificed their lives and everything and the struggles of other people in the continent and Diaspora.  People fought that after apartheid the government will be able to give social and economic succor to the South African people. And now that the government has failed, the people have now become beasts. Rate of crime is so high; government should have empowered the people.”