Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa have vowed to put an end to xenophobic and reprisal attacks in South Africa and Nigeria, respectively.
The call follows a series of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa, a development that prompted reprisal attacks in Nigeria.
Both countries also agreed on the commencement of the Early Warning Mechanism mooted by the Federal Government last year by the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.
The Early Warning Mechanism, according to Onyeama, in a September 1 interview with Sunday Sun, is “essentially to have a framework for the main protagonists, the main actors to meet regularly – the South African Police at the highest level, with the Nigerian High Commissioner, the Consul General, the Foreign Affairs and the Justice Department.”
In a joint communique issued on the state visit of President Buhari to South Africa and the inaugural session of the elevated Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, Buhari and Ramaphosa reviewed a wide range of bilateral, continental and global issues of common interest.
The two presidents acknowledged the historical and strategic relations that exist between the two countries, even as they took note of the need to further strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation.
Buhari and Ramaphosa further noted with satisfaction the continued exchange of high level visits and meetings between the two countries, recalling the successful working visit of President Ramaphosa to Nigeria in July 2018, during which the two Heads of State reaffirmed their collective desire and commitment to enhance political, economic and social relations between the two countries.
The two presidents appreciated the vast nature of the two countries’ bilateral cooperation which covers, amongst other areas, Trade and Investment, Energy, Mining, Defence and Security issues, Justice, Police, Immigration, Tourism, Environment, Education, Transport as well as Science and Technology.
Buhari and Ramaphosa also took note of the thirty two signed agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and committed themselves to ensuring that those which are in force are fully implemented, while those which are not yet in force are to be revived for implementation.
They further noted with great satisfaction the economic cooperation between the two republics and welcomed the steps to increase trade volumes, as well as private sector investments.
“President Ramaphosa used the opportunity of the meeting to brief President Buhari on the recent incidents of violence in South Africa affecting foreign nationals. He also alluded to the fact that these unfortunate incidents are not consistent with the values and principles underpinning South Africa’s constitutional democracy.
“President Ramaphosa also dispelled the notion that incidents of violence affecting foreign nationals were targeted at Nigerian nationals, as other foreign nationals and indeed, South Africans were affected as well. The 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.
“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. They 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 read.
Ramaphosa, however, added that South Africa is an integral part of the African continent and advocated for a peaceful, vibrant and sustainable Africa.
He said as Africans “we all have a shared commitment to foster peace and greater continental unity.
“He further stated that we should never forget that our fellow Africans have contributed to developing our economy, and that of the region and similarly, South Africans are helping to develop economies across the continent.
“Both Presidents condemned these violent incidents and the destruction of property and reiterated their call for heightened law enforcement. They stressed the importance of high level engagements on this unfortunate phenomenon as demonstrated by the reciprocal dispatch of Special Envoys by both countries. In this regard, the two Presidents 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.
“The two Presidents further endorsed the reestablishment of the Republic of South Africa and the Federal Republic of Nigeria consular Forum to meet twice a year,” the statement further read.
On global issues, Buhari and Ramaphosa exchanged views on the current political, economic and security situation in their respective regions.
They further expressed serious concern as a result of the ongoing instability in some countries on the African continent, while strongly condemning the continued terrorist and extremist activities.
“Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to working together in pursuit of sustainable peace and economic development on the continent in the context of AU Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
“On the international front, President Ramaphosa seized the opportunity of the meeting to congratulate Nigeria as the current Chair of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). In the same vein, President Buhari also congratulated South Africa as the President of United Nations Security Council for the month of October 2019 and as the upcoming chair of the African Union for the year 2020. They reiterated their call for the reform of the United Nations Security Council.
“President Buhari expressed profound gratitude for the warm reception and hospitality accorded him and his delegation. He also took the opportunity to invite President Ramaphosa to pay a reciprocal visit to the Federal Republic of Nigeria on a date to be jointly agreed and communicated through diplomatic channels,” the communique read.