President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent a special envoy of South African government officials to different countries in Africa to initiate peace talks and apologise for the recent acts of xenophobia we have seen in September.
Xenophobia in South Africa: What’s the latest?
The recent spate of xenophobic violence we bore witness to in these last three or four weeks has left, in its wake, rife diplomatic tensions between South Africa and other African countries.
We saw this in football when three countries, Botswana, Zambia and Madagascar, pulled out of international friendly games against Bafana Bafana.
South African businesses in Zambia and Nigeria were also targeted by groups of rioters who used violence and looting as a means of showing retaliation towards the xenophobic violence that erupted in South Africa, in late August.
The main issue at hand, right now, is rooting out fake news. This comes after Rwanda’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Vincent Karega, confirmed that media reports suggesting that President Paul Kagame had launched a bid to have South Africa expelled from the African Union (AU) were not true.
President Ramaphosa’s envoy has one mission
The president has been on the road since he cancelled his trip to the United Nations General Assembly last week, citing that there were more pressing domestic issues he had to take care of.
He started his road to recovering the damage in South Africa in Tshwane, where he addressed the different taxi driver associations at the home of Jabu Baloyi, the man whose death may have prompted the xenophobic violence.
After winning over their allegiance, Ramaphosa, speaking at the funeral of the late Robert Mugabe, took a stand and apologised, on behalf of South Africa, to all affected African countries.
There, he revealed that he had set up a special envoy of government officials who will be travelling to different parts of Africa to formally apologise and provide updates on the measures South Africa is taking to restore peace between locals and foreign nationals.
He confirmed that former MP and ex-Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, will lead the team headed to Nigeria and West Africa.
“I am sending other envoys to the AU and various countries to go and explain to them what has happened and to offer our apologies. For those who have been killed, our condolences, and for those injured as well. So we will be trying to repair the damage that has been caused by all this,” the president said.
Ramaphosa warns foreign nationals to obey SA laws
On his arrival from Zimbabwe, the president stopped by in Johannesburg to engage regional branches of the ANC on the outcomes of his discussions with African leaders at Mugabe’s funeral. There, Ramaphosa noted that the general consensus is that at the crux of the violence, is the need for everyone, locals and foreign nationals alike, to abide by the laws of South Africa.
“In accordance with our protocol, our laws and regulations, one of the presidents of the African countries told me that they had a meeting just two weeks ago before the WEF with their own nationals, and when they had a meeting nationals had complaints.
“Whilst we understand why our nationals are feeling unsafe, that president also said, you just imagine if you were to have south Africans in your country who do not obey the law, who embark in criminal activity, how would that affect you. They immediately realised indeed the issue of living in accordance with the law of the country is what should be expected from every national,” he said.
As sensitive a topic as this is for many frustrated locals, Ramaphosa said more dialogues need to be had in order to find constructive ways to root out the problems that give rise to xenophobia.
The president has since submitted an application with Parliament to launch a debate on what can be done to address xenophobia in South Africa.