by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – THE latest outbreak of attacks against foreign nationals in South Africa is set to be on the global agenda when the country hosts the international community until the end of the week.
South Africa is hosting the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town, coinciding with the looting of foreign-owned shops especially in the economic hub of Gauteng.
The African Diaspora Forum (ADF) decried the situation.
“We are very, very unhappy with the unfolding xenophobic attacks. Life and property have been lost,” said chairman, Dr Vusi Sibanda in an interview with CAJ News Africa.
He disclosed they would be lobbying delegates at the WEF to address the recurring violence.
“We will definitely be taking our grievances to the WEF in Cape Town. We will be at the WEF to send our disapproval against unprovoked xenophobic attacks in the country (South Africa),” Sibanda told CAJ News on Tuesday (today).
He accused the South African government of not taking decisive action to protect the lives and property of foreign nationals.
Foreign nationals in South Africa have expressed outrage and there are fears of retaliation attacks against South African interests outside the country.
Gamuchirai Zvapano, a Zimbabwean entrepreneur in Johannesburg, suggested sanctions against South African companies operating outside its borders would deter such xenophobic violence.
“I think it is high we start denying airspace to South African Airways (SAA), banks, supermarkets and telecommunications companies operating across Africa,” Zvapano said.
Nigerian entrepreneur, Ikechukwu Obi, whose shop was looted, accused authorities of inept reaction to the crisis.
“The South African government and police always shed crocodile tears yet they Nicodemusly encourage their citizens to be violent against foreign nationals,” Obi charged.
Oby Ezekwesili, a former Nigerian presidential candidate, urged the South African government of President Cyril Ramaphosa to protect foreign nationals in the spirit of solidarity displayed by other African countries during Apartheid.
“The maiming and killing of citizens of Nigeria and other African countries in South Africa dishonors everything our collective fight for freedom was about. Even as children in primary school, we played our part,” she said.
Ezekwesili said the recent attacks marred bilateral relations with South Africa.
“It is time to take decisive actions to protect our citizens in South Africa. The maiming and killings have gone on for too long without effective response,” she said.
Zambia, which sheltered South African freedom fighters, warned its truck drivers and citizens to stay out of South Africa. Truck drivers have also been victims of attacks during a strike in the sector.
Ace Magashule, secretary general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said the violence was unacceptable.
“We condemn this violence, irrespective of whatever reasons people want to give,” Magashule said.
In 2008, 62 foreign nationals were killed and more than 200 000 others displaced in xenophobic violence.
– CAJ News