South Africa has begun efforts to mend fences with African countries whose nationals were victims of recent xenophobic attacks targeted at foreign African residents in the country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa dispatched three special envoys to seven African countries to deliver messages of pan-African unity and solidarity following xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the Presidency said on Sunday.
The special envoys– Jeff Radebe, Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo and Dr Khulu Mbatha, would deliver a message from Ramaphosa regarding the xenophobic violence against on foreign nationals and the destruction of their property in some parts of South Africa, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.
“The envoys are tasked with reassuring fellow African countries that SA is committed to the ideals of Pan-African unity and solidarity. The envoys will also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law,” Diko said.
The envoys who visited Nigeria on Monday will also go to Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
The envoys will brief governments in the 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, Diko said.
South Africa has been hit by a new spate of violence for the past few weeks. At least 12 people, including 10 South Africans and two foreigners, have been killed.
Last week, hundreds of foreign nationals affected by the attacks in South Africa, including Zimbabweans, Mozambicans and Nigerians, were airlifted to their home countries.
Xenophobia-related attacks are common in South Africa where foreigners from other African countries are blamed for taking up employment that should have been taken by locals and some of them are also blamed for criminality.
Analysts say the fence-mending efforts are to assuage the anger in African countries where South African companies are very active.
Ramaphosa felt the hostility at the funeral of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in Harare, where the crowd booed him throughout his speech. In Nigeria, some youths attacked South African businesses and embassy to express their outrage over the attacks against their compatriots in South Africa and they have been calls for the boycott of South African-owned companies.
There have been protests as well in DR Congo and Zambia while the chairman of Nigeria’s ruling party APC, Adams Oshiomole, has even called for the nationalisation of some of the firms.