South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday, dispatched three special envoys to Nigeria and six other African countries to deliver messages of pan-African unity and solidarity, following xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The special envoys, according to South African presidential spokesman, Khusela Diko, will deliver a message from Ramaphosa regarding the incidents of violence that recently erupted in some parts of South Africa, which have manifested in attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of property.
According to him, the envoys will reassure fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity, and also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law.
The envoys will visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, according to Diko.
“They will brief governments in the identified African countries about the steps that the South African government is taking to bring a stop to the attacks and to hold the perpetrators to account,” he said.
It was learned that the decision of the South African President to send the envoys on the trouble-shooting mission was informed by the fact that he was booed by the crowd at the burial ceremony of former Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, in Harare on Saturday.
The jeers from the crowd, it was learned, was a result of the xenophobic attacks on Africans, including those from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and other countries by the locals.
Reacting to the jeers, Ramaphosa said: “I will like to say to the people of Zimbabwe that in the last two weeks, we as South Africans, have been going through a challenging period. We have had acts of violence erupting in some parts of our country and some of which were directed at our brothers in other African countries.
“This has led to the death of some people, some of whom are nationals of other countries and majority are from South Africa. I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regrets and to apologise for what has happened in our country.
“What has happened in South Africa goes against the principles of the unity of African peoples that President Mugabe, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and leaders of our continent stood for.”
South Africa has been hit by a new wave of violence in the past few weeks, which has led to the killing of 12 persons, including 10 South Africans.
South Africa is host to some 274,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from African countries, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Xenophobia-related attacks are common in South Africa, where foreigners are blamed for taking up employment that should have been taken by locals.