President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has dispatched three special envoys to seven African countries to deliver messages of pan-African unity and solidarity following xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The special envoys are expected to visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
But the peace move is coming just as a former Minister of External Affairs, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi urged Nigeria to take legal action against South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherland.
Spokesperson to the South African Presidency, Khusela Diko, said the special envoys 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 their property.
According to Diko, the envoys will 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.
The special envoys 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.
New Telegraph could not confirm if the special envoys dispatched to Nigeria had arrived or when he would arrive as officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja were not available for comments on the issue.
Meanwhile, Prof. Akinyemi has urged the Federal Government to take legal action against South Africa at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherland.
In a statement issued yesterday by the elder statesman, Akinyemi said that during the recent violence, the South Africa government failed to protect Nigerians and other nationals in that country.
Akinyemi said Nigeria should file complaints against specific South African officials for aiding and abetting the xenophobic attacks.
The former minister said the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals were condoned by the South African state which, according to him, violated the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other international laws.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in the wake of the xenophobic attacks, ordered the immediate evacuation of Nigerians willing to leave the country.
The former minister cited statement credited to the South African Minister of International Relations, Dr. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, that Nigerians were drug dealers; the statement credited to Deputy Police Minister, Bongani Mkongi, that they fought for their land and that, that land would not be surrendered to immigrants; the statement credited to the South African Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, that South Africa is an angry nation and that the country could not prevent the xenophobic attacks; and various statements credited to South African diplomats blaming the immigrants.
Akinyemi noted that the anti-immigrant acts by the South African Immigration service officials which for all practical purposes amount to holding Nigerian immigrants hostage by refusing to allow them to be evacuated.
“I have come to the conclusion that the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other immigrants are acts sponsored or condoned by the South African state in violation of Article 2, paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Article 2, paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination; and the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers.
“I, therefore, call on Nigeria to sue South Africa before the International Court of Justice for failure in its duty of care and protection of Nigerian citizens’ resident there.
“I furthermore call on Nigeria to file complaints against specific South African officials at the International Criminal Court for aiding and abetting the xenophobic attacks,” Akinyemi said.
South Africa was hit by a spate of violence in the past few weeks. At least 12 people, including 10 South Africans and two foreigners, have been killed. The country is host to some 274,000 refugees and asylum-seekers from African countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Xenophobic attacks are common in South Africa, where foreigners are blamed for taking up employment that should have been taken by locals.