Human RightsNews

Instead of addressing xenophobic attacks, President Ramaphosa sweet talks African nations

HARARE, Zimbabwe – South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent special envoys to several African countries over xenophobic attacks carried out by thousands of South Africans against citizens of other African countries resident in the country. 

President Ramaphosa dispatched three special envoys to seven African countries to deliver messages of Pan-African unity and solidarity following xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

South African youth on Xenophobic attacks

The special envoys will deliver a message from the South African leader and the government regarding the instances of violence that recently erupted in some parts of the country, which involved attacks on and killings of foreign nationals as well as the destruction of property, according to the Presidency.

The spokesman said President Ramaphosa had instructed the envoys to reassure fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of Pan-African unity and solidarity.

They will also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law, Diko said.

According to Diko, the envoys will visit the African nations of Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia from where most of the victims of the xenophobic attacks hailed.

The envoys will deliver messages to the governments in the identified African countries about the steps that the South African government is taking to address the attacks and to hold the perpetrators accountable, the Presidential spokesman said.

Xenophobia-related attacks are not uncommon and new in South Africa where unemployed and poverty-stricken citizens, particularly young people, falsely blamed foreigners for taking up jobs that should go to South African citizens.

Some African analysts say South Africans appear to forget their recent past history as refugees and asylum seekers when they scattered throughout the African continent and benefitted from the resources and generosity of their fellow Africans including the people of the west and east Africa.

Some say the xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans is misplaced aggression and a sign of weakness in black South Africans’ ability to govern themselves.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (R) speaks to a crowd of tens of thousands protesting outside

A group of African professionals in the United States and Europe has condemned the move of President Ramaphosa in paying lip service to the pains and injuries that other Africans suffered at the hands of his violent and xenophobic countrymen and women. 

Instead of sending special envoys, some say the South African president needs to hold the perpetrators accountable and institute swift justice.

South Africa has been hit by a new spate of violence for the past few weeks. At least 12 people, including 10 South Africans and two foreigners, have been killed.

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Ben Mabande

Ben Mabande is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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