Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, Dr Naledi Pandor, has lambasted the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) for calling for the expulsion of South Africans and protesting at South African-owned businesses in Nigeria.
Pandor, in a statement issued ahead of his visit to Tanzania for the South African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja by the acting South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, said the protests which were in response to alleged killings of Nigerians by South Africans, were devoid of truth, reckless and unwarranted.
“In addition to the subject of this meeting, I wish to take this opportunity to express my regret and my department’s concern regarding statements said to emanate from a student organisation in Nigeria, calling for the expulsion of South Africans and protests at South African-owned businesses.
“The protests were said to be in response to alleged killings of Nigerians by South Africans. As you are aware, these allegations are devoid of truth, reckless and unwarranted.
“We find these statements most unfortunate as they don’t reflect the strong relations that exist between the people and the governments of South Africa and Nigeria. The two countries enjoy strong bilateral relations, which were forged over many years during our struggle for liberation in South Africa and in this democratic era, fully supported by the people and Government of Nigeria,” Pandor said.
The minister further said Moroe who is currently in South Africa, has had several meetings with the police and other senior government officials in Nigeria.
He added that the South African government had also had contact from the highest level of the Nigerian government, adding that “we have been assured that authorities in Nigeria are taking these calls for protests seriously.”
Pandor added: “They have also assured us that South African citizens and their property in Nigeria will be protected.
“South Africa values the strong ties it has established with Nigeria and will continue to enhance these even further.”
Pandor also said the statements referred to earlier appear to result from the unfortunate passing of Mrs. Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chukwu, the Deputy Director-General of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, in June 2019.
He said the South African Police Service was still investigating the incident, even as he said the government of South Africa believed no one should abuse the unfortunate tragedy to generate negative sentiments about South Africa.
He expressed condolences to Ndubuisi-Chukwu’s family, friends and the people of Nigeria.
“I wish to repeat statements made by the Minister of Police, Mr. Bheki Cele, when addressing the diplomatic corps early this year. Firstly, there is no targeting of any group of Africans in South Africa. Secondly, our law-enforcement agencies are making every effort to fight crime and arrest all criminals.
“It is worth mentioning that, daily, Nigerian nationals travel to South Africa for a multiplicity of reasons ranging from business, tourism and academic purposes.
“Similarly, South Africans have chosen Nigeria as their preferred destination for investment and other activities of interest. Nigeria is home to approximately 120 South African companies, amongst which are MTN, Shoprite, Multichoice, SAA, and Game – to mention but a few.
“All these companies have over the years contributed towards job creation and social responsibility programmes for Nigerian nationals, both young and old. We are, therefore, very pleased that our strong relations were able to place South African business on a firm footing in Nigeria, and also paved the way for further investments by Nigerian business in South Africa.
“I am hoping that with the support of our High Commission in Nigeria, we will be able to invite to South Africa, some of the leaders of student organisations, leading the calls for protests against South African businesses in Nigeria. I will also ask my colleague, the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces of our Parliament to invite his counterpart, the Senate President of Nigeria and a delegation to visit South Africa to see for themselves that many Nigerians live in peace and harmony among South Africans. We would also ensure that a delegation of members of the executive visit Nigeria to further strengthen our relations.
“I hope their visit will help them to develop a different view from that which they have about South Africa,” Pandor stated.