The South African government has condemned and described as “an unfortunate and regrettable step”, the move taken by the Nigerian government to recall their two top envoys to South Africa as a reaction to the most recent spate of attacks on foreign nationals.
In a statement dated Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nigeria had said that they were recalling their ambassador in Pretoria, which is South Africa’s capital as well as the consular general, who is based in the economic hub, Johannesburg. The two envoys had been called back to their home country for consultation as regards the attacks on its citizenry that is based in South Africa. The statement also noted that some members of the South African community had been unequivocal in condemning the attacks on foreigners and had organised marches to do just that. In addition, the Nigerian government statement noted President Jacob Zuma had been in the forefront in condemning the attacks. Another point of interest in the Nigerian statement was the mention of King Goodwill Zwelithini, who had also condemned the anti-foreigner attacks. The Zulu monarch is accused of having incited the attacks in a speech he made at least a month ago when he called on foreigners to return to their home country. He has since said his statement had been taken out of context and blown out of proportion, especially by the media.
In addition to recalling their envoys, the Nigerian legislators have, this week in parliament, called on the South African government to pay damages for those that fell victim to the attacks. Speaking in the Nigerian senate, one Senator, Nkechi Nwogu, was quoted by The Premium Times as saying, “This is not the first time that South Africa and their youth have gone after international communities. The same thing happened in 2008, and what happened to the perpetrators when it happened?” In addition, the Nigerian legislators have called on the International Criminal Court to indict King Goodwill Zwelithini for inciting the xenophobic attacks. This call was taken up by some Nigerian rights groups. Still there was a call from the Nigerian legislature, which called on the southern African nation to be suspended from the African Union.
Responding to the Nigerian government’s action, the Department of International Cooperation in South Africa described the moves by Nigeria as regrettable and unfortunate and said their government had done a lot to try and stop the attacks. The department said the government and many other civic organisation had been decisive and unequivocal in condemning and rejecting the attacks on foreign nationals” adding that through its interventions, relative calm and order had been restored.