Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari described the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa as an “embarrassment to the continent”. President Buhari was on a state visit to South Africa from 2 to 4 October, and met with his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Buhari held a town hall meeting with the Nigerian community in South Africa, where he expressed his sentiments on the recent violence in South Africa targeting foreign African nationals.
According to his official Twitter account, during the meeting with the Nigerian community in South Africa, President Buhari said “The recent acts of xenophobic attacks on our compatriots and other Africans in South Africa are shocking to me, Nigerians and indeed Africa. It was an embarrassment to the continent”.
“The authorities have expressed their apologies over the incidents and have resolved to take necessary steps to end this ugly trend in the interest of our relationship,” Buhari added.
The recent acts of xenophobic attacks on our compatriots and other Africans in South Africa are shocking to me, Nigerians and indeed Africa. It was an embarrassment to the continent.
— Presidency Nigeria (@NGRPresident) October 4, 2019
Commitment to stop a recurrence of violence
During the state visit President Ramaphosa briefed President Buhari, and said the xenophobic incidents are not consistent with the values and principles underpinning South Africa’s constitutional democracy.
South Africa has shown a commendable willingness to engage with the countries whose nationals were affected by the attacks. The xenophobic attacks have however dealt a major blow to South Africa’s image on the continent, seriously affecting the country’s diplomatic ties. President Ramaphosa however dispelled the notion that incidents of violence affecting foreign nationals were targeted at Nigerian nationals, as other foreign nationals and South Africans as well were affected by the violence. According to a joint communique on the state visit, the South African President assured his counterpart that “the South African Government was fully in control of the situation and several interventions including engagements with diplomatic community and émigré communities, security operations, policy and legislation reviews were underway”.
The communique stated that both Presidents strongly condemned the attacks against foreign nationals including Nigerians in South Africa and the reprisal actions against South Africans and their interests in Nigeria. The two leaders also “expressed strong commitment to take all necessary measures to stop a recurrence of these attacks which they said undermine the vision of a strong and prosperous Africa that the two countries have for the continent,” the communique added.
As a preventative measure, the two Presidents also endorsed the establishment of an “Early Warning Mechanism” and “directed the two Foreign Ministers to give practical expression to the Early Warning Mechanism to be used as a preventative and monitoring platform”.