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SOUTH AFRICA AND NIGERIA TRY TO FIGHT AGAINST XENOPHOBIA

March 14, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

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





The Foreign Ministers of South Africa and Nigeria met on Monday (March 13th) in Pretoria to discuss the issue of xenophobia. For several weeks, South Africa has seen a resurgence of violence against foreigners, which began last month with attacks on Nigerian nationals in the outskirts of Johannesburg, accused of being responsible for drug trafficking and prostitution.

For the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, relations between the two countries remain good, despite the violence against the nationals of his country, in South Africa. Last month, houses belonging to Nigerians were set on fire, their owners being accused of drug trafficking and prostitution.

After meeting with his South African counterpart on Monday morning, Nigerian Minister Geoffrey Onyeama stressed the importance of economic relations between the two countries, which should not be spoiled by a minority.

"Not all Nigerians in South Africa are criminals. The overwhelming majority contribute positively to the country's economy. We have professors, doctors, engineers. In all sectors of activity, there are Nigerians and we will not jeopardize this contribution because of the criminal activity of a small number, "said the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The two countries have agreed to set up a warning mechanism. Representatives of the government and the police of the two countries will meet every three months.

In offering South Africa’s support for the early warning system, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that attacks on foreign immigrants are in violation of the country's constitutional values.

“I reiterate that the president, the government and the people of South Africa reaffirm that which is in our constitution that we will fight all forms of discrimination based on race religion, sex or creed, including afrophobia. We further reaffirm that constitutional democracy which enshrines human rights, bill of rights, democratic values and equality of freedoms. We also dispel the notion that these attacks against foreign nationals were targeted at Nigerians," she said.

Nkoana Mashabane said that they also reflected on various areas of co-operation between South Africa and Nigeria which she said will continue to be strengthened.

“Our discussions enabled us to further appreciate the vast nature of our countries' bilateral cooperation which covers, among others, trade and investment, energy, agriculture, mining, defence, health, tourism, environment, education and transport, as well as science and technology. In this regard, we further committed ourselves to ensuring that all the signed thirty four sectoral agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) are fully implemented. We noted with great satisfaction the economic cooperation between the two Republics as evidenced by the increasing trade volumes, as well as private sector investments.”

Pretoria is accused of denying the xenophobic nature of this violence. Just last week, former President Thabo Mbeki preferred to speak of "crime", causing the anger of some ambassadors in the country.



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