Foreigners In South Africa Appeal To Be Relocated After Attacks

A man kicks a burning piece of furniture during a riot in the Johannesburg suburb of Turffontein on September 2, 2019, as angry protesters loot alleged foreign-owned shops in a new wave of violence targeting foreign nationals. PHOTO: Michele Spatari / AFP

Hundreds of foreign nationals on Wednesday took to the streets of Cape Town, demanding to be relocated from South Africa after camping at the UN refugee agency offices for a week.

The foreigners, many of whom described themselves as asylum-seekers, say they no longer feel safe in South Africa after a surge of xenophobic attacks last month.

“Save lives of refugees before it is too late,” said one slogan, painted in green on a white banner.

Many of the protesters have been camping at the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town since October 9, vowing not to leave the premises until the agency addressed their concerns.

Children play as hundreds of people, originally from Rwanda, DR Congo, Burundi, and Bangladesh, sleeping in a corridor close to the offices of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on October 8, 2019, in Cape Town. These people are asking the UNHCR to intervene on their behalf as they say they don’t feel safe in South Africa any more, due to high levels of crime as well as xenophobia, and want help in getting home, or to another country. PHOTO: RODGER BOSCH / AFP

 

The numbers had grown steadily over the past week, spilling out from corridors to the kerb outside the building.

“We marched to parliament for the government to hear us and to send a loud and clear message,” said Sylvia Nahimana, a group representative from Burundi.

“We have been negotiating with them since 2008 but the killing still goes on.”

‘No future for us’

Xenophobic violence left at least 62 dead that year. Seven people were killed in 2015 and 12 died in the latest spate of attacks this year — most of them South African. The incidents occurred mainly in the Johannesburg area.

The continent’s most industrialised economy is a magnet for migrants searching for better job prospects and asylum seekers looking for safety.

The country attracts people from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Others come from farther afield including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, and South Asian countries.

Seen as competing with locals for jobs, they are often the first to come under fire when South Africa’s chronic unemployment and inequality boils into resentment.

“We aren’t safe here and we aren’t safe in Bangladesh either,” said Hafeez Mohamed, a political dissident who sought refuge in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, where he saw his grocery store burned down.

“They treat us like chickens and we don’t want to be chickens here anymore.”

The protest broke out following a visit by the UNHCR chief.

“Preserving fair and efficient asylum systems is vital,” said Filippo Grandi in a statement on Wednesday.

“But to function effectively, they must be accompanied by safe, regular migration channels and other stay arrangements.”

But Grandi noted that resettlement to third countries was a “very limited option for refugees worldwide”, as the number of resettlement places was dropping.

South Africa is home to 268,000 refugees and asylum seekers, according to government statistics. They are mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and the DRC.

But the exact number of foreign nationals is unknown as the majority are undocumented.

“South Africa isn’t better than our home countries we fled,” said Congolese Jean-Pierre Balus at the scene.

“We want to go somewhere out children have a future, where we aren’t segregated.”

“There is no future for us here,” he added.

AFP

Foreigners Appeal To Be Relocated From South Africa After Attacks

SA Minister Assures Foreign Nationals Of Halted Attacks

 

Hundreds of foreign nationals on Wednesday took to the streets of Cape Town, demanding to be relocated from South Africa after camping at the UN refugee agency offices for a week.

The foreigners, many of whom described themselves as asylum-seekers, say they no longer feel safe in South Africa after a surge of xenophobic attacks last month.

“Save lives of refugees before it is too late,” said one slogan, painted in green on a white banner.

Many of the protesters have been camping at the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town since October 9, vowing not to leave the premises until the agency addressed their concerns.

The numbers had grown steadily over the past week, spilling out from corridors to the kerb outside the building.

“We marched to parliament for the government to hear us and to send a loud and clear message,” said Sylvia Nahimana, a group representative from Burundi.

“We have been negotiating with them since 2008 but the killing still goes on.”

 ‘No future for us’ 

Xenophobic violence left at least 62 dead that year. Seven people were killed in 2015 and 12 died in the latest spate of attacks this year — most of them South African. The incidents occurred mainly in the Johannesburg area.

The continent’s most industrialised economy is a magnet for migrants searching for better job prospects and asylum seekers looking for safety.

The country attracts people from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Others come from farther afield including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria and South Asian countries.

Seen as competing with locals for jobs, they are often the first to come under fire when South Africa’s chronic unemployment and inequality boils into resentment.

“We aren’t safe here and we aren’t safe in Bangladesh either,” said Hafeez Mohamed, a political dissident who sought refuge in South Africa’s Northern Cape province, where he saw his grocery store burned down.

“They treat us like chickens and we don’t want to be chickens here anymore.”

The protest broke out following a visit by the UNHCR chief.

“Preserving fair and efficient asylum systems is vital,” said Filippo Grandi in a statement on Wednesday.

“But to function effectively, they must be accompanied by safe, regular migration channels and other stay arrangements.”

But Grandi noted that resettlement to third countries was a “very limited option for refugees worldwide”, as the number of resettlement places was dropping.

South Africa is home to 268,000 refugees and asylum seekers, according to government statistics. They are mainly from Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and the DRC.

But the exact number of foreign nationals is unknown as majority are undocumented.

“South Africa isn’t better than our home countries we fled,” said Congolese Jean-Pierre Balus at the scene.

“We want to go somewhere out children have a future, where we aren’t segregated.”

“There is no future for us here,” he added.

AFP

Nigerian Phone Repairer Stabbed To Death In South Africa

Ikenna Innocent Otugo

 

A forty-one-year-old Nigerian man has been stabbed to death in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal Province following an altercation over cell phone repairs.

Mr. Ikenna Innocent Otugo who ran a cellphone repair shop in Empangeni, near Durban was from Egbengwu Village, Nimo in Anambra State.

According to one of the Nigerian Community Leaders in the Area, Mr. Boniface Chilo, a female customer who was unhappy about the service she got allegedly returned with two men who attacked the deceased during an altercation.

One of the men was said to have stabbed him and he died on the way to the hospital.

The KwaZulu Natal chairman of the Nigerian Citizens Association South Africa, Mr. Bartholomew Eziagulu confirmed that the two attackers are yet to be apprehended but the police are investigating.

He is survived by an 8-year-old.

Zuma Files Last-Minute Appeal At Corruption Trial

In this file photo taken on July 27, 2018 former South African president Jacob Zuma stands in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg during his hearing over 16 corruption charges. 
PHOTO: Phill MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP

 

South Africa’s embattled former president Jacob Zuma will appeal a court ruling that he stand trial on corruption charges, his lawyer said Tuesday, in a last-minute move delaying a case over bribery allegations dating back to a 1990s arms deal.

The trial would have been the first time Zuma faced a court on graft charges, despite a string of accusations over his long political career.

The High Court in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg last week rejected his request to have charges of fraud, graft and racketeering dismissed, clearing the way for the trial to start on Tuesday.

But Zuma’s lawyer Thabani Masuku told the court at the start of the trial that the ex-president would appeal, dragging on a case that has seen numerous legal twists over 15 years.

“Mr Zuma would like to exercise the full extent of his constitutional rights, which includes the right to appeal,” Masuku said.

Zuma was forced to resign as president last year by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party after a nine-year reign marred by corruption allegations and dwindling popularity.

He is accused of taking bribes worth four million rand ($270,000) before he became president from a 51-billion-rand ($3.4-billion) 1999 arms purchase by five European firms, including French defence company Thales.

Both Zuma and Thales, which is accused of paying the bribes and was also to stand trial, deny the charges.

The defence team of Zuma, who has claimed he is so broke he had to sell his socks to raise legal fees, maintained that the ex-president had been ready for trial for 14 years.

Both legal teams agreed that proceedings would now be postponed until the provisional date of February 4 next year.

Large crowds of supporters have traditionally rallied for his court appearances, but a smaller number of fewer than 150 was outside the proceedings on Tuesday.

Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering related to the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment arms deal when he was deputy president to the country’s second black president Thabo Mbeki.

Critics have dubbed him the “Teflon president” for his reputed ability to evade judicial reckoning.

His former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who allegedly facilitated Thales’s payments, was in 2005 found guilty of fraud and corruption and sentenced to 15 years behind bars.

But, shortly after Zuma became president in 2009, Shaik was released on medical parole.

Analysts have warned that if Zuma goes on trial, he will drag down with him many leaders of Nelson Mandela’s ANC, which has governed the country since the end of apartheid in 1994.

‘The king of corrupt people’

Zuma has also been accused of overseeing the mass looting of state assets during his presidency.

High on the list of alleged benefactors is the wealthy Indian-born Gupta business family, who were accused of unfairly obtaining lucrative government contracts and even influencing Zuma’s ministerial appointments.

Last week the US Treasury blacklisted three Gupta brothers, calling them a “significant corruption network”.

The country’s former anti-corruption watchdog head Thuli Madonsela accused Zuma of being an integral player who opened the doors for individuals and private companies to loot state resources.

After duelling with Madonsela in the courts, Zuma was ordered to appoint a commission of inquiry into the corruption scandal — commonly known as “state capture”. It has been hearing testimonies since August last year.

Zuma appeared at the inquiry in July, putting on a defiant performance and denying all wrongdoing.

“I have been vilified, alleged to be the king of corrupt people,” he said, adding that he had been the victim of “character assassination over 20 years”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took over from Zuma, has vowed to tackle deep-seated corruption but faces opposition from senior powerful ANC members, many of whom remain Zuma allies.

AFP

Ex-South Africa Leader Zuma Must Face Corruption Trial, Says Court

File Photo: Phill MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP

 

South Africa’s scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma will face trial on corruption charges over a 1990s arms deal, a court ruled Friday, in one of multiple alleged graft cases over his long political career.

The court dismissed Zuma’s bid for a permanent stay of prosecution over 16 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to the multi-billion-dollar arms deal dating back to before he took office in 2009.

Zuma, who was forced to resign last year over separate corruption allegations, has been accused of taking four million rand ($267,000) in bribes from French defence company Thales.

He sought in March to have the case dropped, maintaining it was politically motivated and that a 15-year delay would result in an unfair trial.

But the trial is now scheduled to begin on Tuesday after the High Court, sitting in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg, unanimously dismissed Zuma’s application, saying it was “anchored on unsound foundation”.

In their ruling, the three judges agreed with the prosecution that parts of Zuma’s arguments to have the case thrown out were “scandalous and or vexatious”.

The prosecution welcomed the decision, saying the trial would be held from October 15 to 18.

However the 77-year-old former leader could still appeal the ruling, experts have suggested.

If it goes ahead, it would be the first time the former leader has stood trial on corruption charges, despite a series of graft allegations against him.

Zuma, who was in court for the ruling on Friday, has yet to respond.

The High Court also dismissed an application by Thales to quash the trial. Both the French firm and the former president deny any wrongdoing.

‘Still Going to Drag’

State lawyer Wim Trengove had argued that if Zuma did not stand trial it gave the impression that he had received special treatment “because he is an important and a powerful man”.

He also said Zuma’s claims that he was a victim of a “witch hunt” were unfounded.

Zuma is alleged to have taken the bribes during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the 1990s.

The case has been much delayed — the charges were first brought against Zuma in 2005. They were dropped by prosecutors in 2009, shortly before Zuma became president, and reinstated in 2016.

The judges blamed both Zuma and the state for the “systemic” delays, saying that “both parties are equally liable as they both participated in the litigation leading to the delay”.

However, they said they were satisfied that the delays would not prejudice the trial.

Thales said in a statement that it “notes the decision of the High Court” and was assessing its legal options.

South Africa’s main opposition party the Democratic Alliance welcomed the court’s decision, saying “that Zuma will eventually have to face his day in court”.

But political analyst Xolani Dube warned that Zuma could lodge an “urgent” appeal.

“There are also other avenues that the man might still use… he can still appeal so it’s still going to drag,” Dube told AFP, adding that the country may “not yet see him facing his alleged deeds”.

Zuma claimed last year that he was so broke that he had to sell his socks to raise legal fees, after another court ruled he should front the bills.

Other Corruption Claims 

The ruling ANC party forced Zuma to resign over another corruption scandal centred around the wealthy Gupta business family, who won lucrative contracts with state companies and allegedly held sway over his choice of cabinet ministers.

The court’s ruling on Friday came just a day after the US Treasury slapped sanctions on the three Indian-born Gupta brothers, calling them a “significant corruption network” that dispersed bribes and misappropriated millions in state funds.

Zuma also appeared before a judicial inquiry in July that is probing allegations he organised a systematic plunder of government coffers in a scandal known as “state capture”.

A few days later he pulled out of the inquiry, saying that he had been “treated as someone who was accused”. But he later agreed to return at a future date.

Zuma’s successor as president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has vowed to tackle corruption in South Africa, which has been led by the ANC since Nelson Mandela came to power in 1994 after the end of apartheid.

US Blacklists South Africa’s Zuma-Allied Guptas Over ‘Corruption’

Former South African president Jacob Zuma stands in the dock of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg during his hearing over 16 corruption charges.  Phill MAGAKOE / POOL / AFP

 

The US Treasury announced sanctions Thursday on South Africa’s Gupta business family, close friends of ex-president Jacob Zuma, calling them a “significant corruption network” that dispersed bribes and misappropriated millions in state funds.

The three Indian-born Gupta brothers — Ajay, Atul and Rajesh — are at the center of a South African investigation into rampant corruption during Zuma’s nine-year administration.

His rule ended with a myriad of graft scandals that forced him to step down in February last year.

“The Gupta family leveraged its political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, capture government contracts, and misappropriate state assets,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

“Treasury’s designation targets the Guptas’ pay-to-play political patronage, which was orchestrated at the expense of the South African people,” she said.

The sanctions immediately freeze any assets the blacklisted individuals have under US jurisdiction and forbid Americans and US businesses — particularly international banks with any US operations — from transactions with them.

The sanctions were placed under the US Global Magnitsky Act which targets large-scale corruption and human rights violations.

“We support the anti-corruption efforts of South Africa’s independent judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and the ongoing judicial commissions of inquiry,” the Treasury said.

The Gupta brothers are accused of fraudulently profiting from government contracts, including energy and transport deals, through their close association with Zuma.

The accusations are part of an ongoing judicial inquiry probing allegations that Zuma organised a systematic plunder of government coffers in a scandal known as “state capture”.

South Africa’s justice minister “welcomed the collaborative efforts by the USA government” in the “fight against corruption”.

“The interest of justice must not be shackled by any boundary or border and justice must be seen to be done without fear or favour,” Ronald Lamola said.

The Guptas’ lawyer Rudi Krause said he was “aware” of the US’s decision.

“A press statement dealing with the issue will be published in due course,” he told AFP.

 Dodgy dealings 

Once one of South Africa’s wealthiest families, the Guptas left the country when the ruling African National Congress ousted Zuma from power early last year.

The brothers are reported to have relocated to Dubai, leaving behind a once-giant mining-to-media business conglomerate in shambles.

They have not been charged and their exact whereabouts are unknown.

Indian tax officials raided several properties belonging to the Guptas last year. They were linked to a massive $15 million temple the brothers are building in their hometown of Saharanpur.

Zuma appeared before the state capture commission in July, but withdrew on grounds that he had been “treated as someone who was accused,” according to his lawyers. He has agreed to return at a future date.

The former president’s 35-year-old son Duduzane Zuma testified this week, after he was accused by witnesses of acting as a conduit for the Guptas’ bribery.

He dismissed testimonies of a former deputy finance minister who said he was offered a $40-million bribe by Ajay Gupta at a meeting arranged by Duduzane Zuma, who was in a business partnership with the brothers.

“I’m not corrupt, I have not taken money from anybody, I never have and I never will,” Duduzane Zuma told the inquiry on Tuesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who succeeded Zuma, has vowed to root out corruption.

Meanwhile, a South African court is scheduled to rule Friday on whether to press on with an earlier case involving corrupt payments Zuma allegedly received from a French arms company during the 1990s.

AFP

Ramaphosa Asks South Africans To Tolerate Migrants

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the crowd gathered in Makhanda, Eastern Cape Province on April 27, 2019.  Michele Spatari / AFP

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday urged South Africans to be tolerant of migrants following recent xenophobic violence, as hundreds of refugees camped outside UN offices demanding to be removed the country, fearing for their safety.  

“We are insisting there needs to be more tolerance, there needs to be more understanding,” Ramaphosa told the upper house of parliament in Cape Town.

In August and early September, the country saw a wave of xenophobic violence that left 10 South Africans and two migrants dead when mobs descended on foreign-owned stores in and around Johannesburg, destroying properties and looting.

“South Africans are not xenophobic, we are not,” he said, describing the recent unrest as having been “driven by criminality”.

Ramaphosa said while migration was a challenge, with locals and foreigners competing for limited resources and services, “there should never be any form of prejudice that will be exercised or perpetrated against others.”

He answered questions in parliament, a few office blocks away from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices, where up to 300 foreigners staged a sit-in, demanding to be taken out of South Africa saying they were no longer safe.

They vowed not to leave the premises until the UNHCR addressed their concerns.

As Africa’s most industrialised nation, South Africa is a magnet for economic migrants searching for better job prospects and asylum seekers looking for safety.

But the migrants gathered outside the UNHCR offices insist the country is no longer safe for them.

In a statement it assured the refugees and asylum seekers that it was “working closely” with South African authorities to continue providing protection through issuing appropriate identity documentation, facilitating access to health care, education and employment opportunities.

South Africa is hosting close to 268,000 refugees and asylum seekers, mainly from Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, among others according to the UNHCR.

“As South Africans we should be embracing one another and indeed we should also embrace foreign nationals,” Ramaphosa added.

Xenophobia: Garba Shehu Outlines ‘Key Takeaways’ From Buhari’s Visit To South Africa

 

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, on Saturday published an article on President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to South Africa.

Mr Shehu’s article entitled ‘Key Takeaways From President Buhari’s Visit To South Africa’ comes one day after the President returned to Nigeria on Friday after his three-day trip.

President Buhari travelled to South Africa in company with 10 governors and ministers in the face of xenophobic attacks on foreigners in that country which forced hundreds of Nigerians to return home.

READ ALSO: Nigeria, South Africa To Issue 10-Year Visa To Businessmen, Academics

In his article on Saturday, Mr Shehu believes the President’s visit has “ushered in the process of healing of wounds that had festered over time, and upgrading of good bilateral relations to special and strategic levels”.

Read the full text below:

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM PRESIDENT BUHARI’S VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA By Garba Shehu

There were several crucial outcomes from the three-day state visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Republic of South Africa, October 2nd – 4th, 2019, and here are some highlights from the historic journey.

The President, who was accompanied by Governors of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, Kano State, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Plateau State, Simon Lalong, seven cabinet ministers, head of the National Intelligence Agency and that of the Diaspora Commission was on a dual mission to undertake a State Visit and Co-Chair, with President Cyril Ramaphosa, the inaugural meeting of the elevated Bi-National Commission (BNC) between Nigeria and South Africa.

In 2016, the two countries had agreed to lead the BNC at the level of heads of state, which was the first ever by Nigeria.

In focus during President Buhari’s visit was a wide range of bilateral, regional, continental and global issues of common interest.

For the first time, in the very historic relations that binds the two countries, this visit sought to, and successfully, established an equation between the two and their leaders. The result seems positive with both leaders acknowledging how the meetings reinforced the historic and strategic relations that exist between them, and the need to strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation. They both proclaimed a perfect meeting of minds.

The meetings took place against the overarching backdrop of the sporadic xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals including Nigerians, which had threatened to rupture the cordial and brotherly relationship between the two countries.

When some countries in the sub-region recalled their ambassadors and threatened to cut ties with South Africa following the xenophobic attacks, Nigeria under President Buhari, chose to act wisely by not taking rash actions. There were doubts in many quarters on the continent, if the South African state understood early enough, the magnitude of the consequences of attacks on their own nation, and Africa as a whole. So for President Buhari, the approach was one of engagement, to assist the government and people of that country to overcome their problem, which by now had become our own, and Africa’s challenge.

President Buhari set the right tone by sending a Special Envoy, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), to obtain first hand facts concerning the condition of Nigerians and to sensitize the South African leadership on the concerns of Nigeria and of the continent as well the implications of the attacks.

After receiving a brief from the envoy, the President decided to proceed with an earlier planned visit, rather than abort it as some had suggested. With the visit, he saw an opportunity to put Nigeria/South Africa relations on a fast track; that if the two largest economies can come closer and work together, they can help one another, and the continent at large to overcome the many problems confronting them. Where there is development, prosperity and jobs among Africans, the backward habits as embarrassingly witnessed in South Africa and reprisal attacks, including Nigeria, would have been avoided. President Buhari did not, therefore, see “an eye for an eye” or a tit-for-tat as a solution.

In appreciation of this approach, many in African leadership, including the African Union have sent messages to the President, thanking him for his enlightened leadership and wisdom in dealing with the matter, and in particular for speaking for Africa.

Arising from their discussions, both leaders condemned xenophobic violence and the reprisals. A solution to the typical violence, in their various pronouncements, lies in poverty eradication, jobs creation, crime prevention, observance of rule of law and lawful migration. The two Presidents directed their Foreign Affairs Ministers to give practical expression to the Early Warning Mechanism for prevention and monitoring platform.

Closely linked to this is the issue of the large number of Nigerians incarcerated in South African prisons, their number still undetermined, and lack of communication from the authorities regarding the process and the status of these arrests. The President requested relevant authorities to alert the Nigerian High Commission and the Consulate-General whenever a Nigerian is arrested, in line with Geneva Convention on Consular matters.

Nigeria and South Africa agreed to exchange a list of frequent travellers, notable business people and academics to facilitate the issuance of long term multiple entry visas for 10 years. There was also an agreement to re-establish the Nigeria/South Africa Consular Forum, with departments equivalent to our own Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Co-Chair), Ministry of Justice, the Nigerian High Commission, the Consulate, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking of Persons, Immigration Service and the Police. The forum will meet two times each year.

The two countries agreed to cooperate in geopolitical matters affecting the continent, on such matters of human rights, reform of the United Nations, migration and security issues, the fight against corruption and terrorism, nuclear disarmament and Western Sahara.

To take full advantage of the Nigerian Presidency of the UN General Assembly, currently led by Nigeria’s Permanent Representative, Professor Tijjani Mohammed Bande, and the South African Chairmanship of the Security Council for October, 2019, they agreed to push for the implementation of Resolution 2439 of the Security Council passed 2017, that called for a High Level Visit to the Lake Chad Basin.

The leaders of the two countries agreed to come closer on defence matters and counter terrorism; to intensify military training cooperation and share intelligence, and to work closely in areas of space technology and cyber security. It is also important to note that that the leaders of the first and second economies on the continent agreed to establish a Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Industry, Trade and Investment. The inaugural meeting of this council will hold in April in Abuja next year. The meeting reviewed and agreed on the terms of reference as well as the operating rules for the council.

President Buhari and President Ramaphosa also tackled the knotty issue of market access. While South Africa is expected to re-submit the items they wish to have removed from Nigerian import prohibition list and want identified legal and regulatory difficulties facing businesses from their country in Nigeria removed, this country equally wants to have similar obstacles faced by Nigerian companies in changed or taken out altogether. Nigeria expressed commitment to open a trade office in South Africa.

Both countries noted the non-participation of Nigerian banks in South Africa and requested such banks to define their interests for determination by the relevant regulatory authorities in South Africa.

The same thing would apply to the aviation sector where the South African Airways has free air space in Nigeria but airlines here say they have difficulties accessing the South African air space. South Africa indicated they will look into all the issues.

The two leaders also took note of the significant footprints of South African businesses in Nigeria in sectors such as telecommunications, mining, aviation, banking and finance, retail, property, entertainment and fast foods. They welcomed business activities of Nigeria’s small, micro and medium enterprises as well as the investment of the Dangote Sephaku Cement in South Africa.

In dealing with the unwanted tide of informal artisanal mining activities, a team from South Africa will undertake a study tour of Nigeria in January next year. Also in the coming year, there will be joint minerals investment road show as well as an in-depth research and study of coal in this country, with Nigeria gleaning from South Africa’s rich experience in the sector.

Nigeria’s proposal for knowledge sharing in the areas of policy, legal and regulatory frameworks in mining and metallurgy sector was also welcomed.

In another significant pronouncement to be welcomed by many, President Ramophosa expressed regrets again and again on the xenophobic incidents and contended that South Africa is an integral part of the African continent: “We should never forget that our fellow Africans have contributed to the development of our economy and that of the region, and that South Africans are helping to develop economies across the continent.”

In a speech that should calm many Nigerians, who daily accuse our African brothers of ingratitude, President Ramaphosa said at the State Banquet in honour of President Buhari that: “We owe our freedom to Nigeria and Africa.” He cited sacrifices made by the country and its citizens “in spearheading the call for sanctions against the apartheid regime in the 70s and 80s following the Sharpeville massacre in 1960,” adding that “without Nigeria, freedom for South Africa would have come at a greater cost and a later date.” He repeatedly gave strong assurances that xenophobic attacks will not be allowed to happen again.

On his part, President Buhari read one of his best speeches in the current times at the banquet, a speech that in no small measure, delighted Nigerians and South Africans.

When he met the Nigerians in Diaspora, the President spoke as a father and a true African leader: “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. Let me again use this medium to condole the families of all those who lost their lives over the years in such tragic incidents. May their souls rest in peace. I also commiserate with all those who were injured. May God heal their wounds. My sympathies are also with those who have lost properties.

“During my visit here, we have discussed these attacks on foreigners and Nigerians. 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.

“We have just inaugurated the Nigeria/South Africa Bi-National Commission at the level of Heads of State with a firm determination to further bring our two countries together in a mutually beneficial partnership. Let us, therefore, give peace a chance and pray we have seen the last of this ugly violence.”

President Buhari’s visit to South Africa has, without doubt, ushered in the process of healing of wounds that had festered over time, and upgrading of good bilateral relations to special and strategic levels.

Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media & Publicity.

Nigeria, South Africa To Issue 10-Year Visa To Businessmen, Academics

 

Following successful conclusion of the 9th Bi-National Commission of South Africa and Nigeria meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, which was elevated to the level of heads of state, both countries have agreed on issuing 10-year visas to businessmen, academics and frequent travelers.

The agreement was reached in a meeting co-chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, which was the first time both presidents will preside since the Bi-National Commission was elevated.

The decision was taken to encourage more people-to-people contacts among citizens of both countries and further strengthen socio-cultural, economic and political relations.

READ ALSO: Don’t Forget Your Country, Buhari Tells Nigerians In South Africa

At the meeting held at the Union Buildings, Presidential Palace of South Africa, the two presidents agreed on early warning signals to nip violence in the bud before it escalates, while taking into consideration the need to share more intelligence and promote stronger partnership in security.

Both countries also agreed to re-establish the consular forum, which is a structured arrangement where both governments meet regularly, at least twice in a year, to discuss welfare of citizens.

Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, signed the minutes of the 9th session of Bi-National Commission.

South Africa Seizes Lion Bones In Johannesburg Airport

SA Minister Assures Foreign Nationals Of Halted Attacks

 

South African officials have seized 342 kilos of lion bones — prized in Asia for their supposed medicinal values and to make jewellery — at Johannesburg airport and arrested three people, the environment ministry said Thursday.

The contents were misdeclared, a statement said.

“When the shipment was inspected, 12 boxes of lion bones wrapped in aluminium foil and weighing 342 kg were discovered,” it said.

It did not specify the nationality of the people arrested.

Ministry spokesman Albi Modise said although the export of bones of lions bred in captivity was legal, a special permit was required to send them out.

South Africa is home to more than 11,000 lions, of which 3,000 live in national parks where hunting is forbidden.

In September last year, Singapore Airlines — the only carrier transporting lion bones from South Africa to Asia — said it was ending the practice.

AFP

Buhari, 10 Governors And Ministers In South Africa

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in South Africa for a three-day state visit.

The state visit follows one in March 2016 by former South African President Jacob Zuma.

The president who is accompanied by a number of governors was received at the Waterkloof Airforce Base in Pretoria by the South African Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor and other ministers.

READ ALSO: Buhari, 10 Governors And Ministers Depart Abuja For South Africa

He will begin his state visit on Thursday with a military ceremony at the Union building with his host, President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Among issues of cooperation, the next steps to curb the repeated attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals are on the agenda.

Nigeria, South Africa To Clash In Olympics Football Qualifier

 

Nigeria and South Africa were placed in the same group when the draw for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifying tournament was made Wednesday in Egyptian city Alexandria.

Nigeria and South Africa are in Group B for the November 8-22 championship with the Ivory Coast and Zambia, while Group A comprises hosts Egypt, Mali, Cameroon and Ghana.

Teams are restricted to Under-23 footballers and the finalists and the winners of the third-place play-off will represent Africa in Japan, where teams can use three ‘over-age’ players.

Nigeria have won gold (1996) and silver (2008) at Olympic football tournaments, Cameroon gold (2000) and Ghana bronze (1992).

South Africa and Nigeria stood out during a three-round qualifying competition for the tournament in Egypt, with all matches scheduled for Cairo.

The South Africans twice scored three goals against Angola and banged five past Zimbabwe in Soweto as they chase a second successive appearance at the Olympics.

Although lacking Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen, who were on senior national team duty, Nigeria crushed Sudan 5-0 last month after losing the first leg by a solitary goal.

The tournament doubles as the Africa U23 Cup of Nations and the previous two editions were won by Gabon (2011) in Morocco and Nigeria (2015) in Senegal.

Draw

Group A

Egypt (hosts), Mali, Cameroon, Ghana

Group B

Nigeria, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Zambia