South Africa and Nigeria ,the two biggest economy in Africa has been on a diplomatic brawl over the xenophobic attack on Nigerians living in South Africa.
This has put both countries in a bitter situation and might probable escalate to action that has serious consequences. Diplomatic relations as it stands today has been between the two countries is at the fringes . What will become if trade relations and other bilateral relations is yet to be ascertained.
South African government has been paying lip services to the reoccurring sore of xenophobic action without tackling it or taking definitive action on her citizens that have decided to vent their anger, frustration , government failure and joblessness on foreigners. This, we all know isn’t the first time. But, this time , Nigerians have been single out of this madness. A move that has pitched the countries citizens against each other with Nigerians fighting back in South Africa and South African government deporting over 90 Nigerians in one swoop.
The Nigerian Union South Africa (NUSA) has confirmed that Nigerian homes and businesses in Pretoria West had been attacked in severally in recent days.
“Homes and shops of Nigerians were targeted and looted in the events of past few days,” Emeka Ezinteje Collins, national public relations officer of NUSA, told Al Jazeera, citing at least 10 such attacks.
Some blame this xenophobic attack on laziness of the average South African youth, hoping that government will hand them everything on a platter. While some school of thought has it that the Southern Africans are not receptive and are xenophobic, a case of Zimbabwe comes to mind also. But , some say that it is because Nigerians in South Africa are crime kingpins.
Every coin has a different side and every story, a different perspective. Jacob Zuma, South African president defended his people, this is expected of him. He said “I don’t think you’d have the numbers we have of foreigners and I don’t think we would sit for years and years without any burst out if South Africans were xenophobic I’m saying the numbers of foreigners in South Africa are far more than the numbers that Europe is fighting about”
Brigadier Mathapelo Peters, a police officer in South Africa , he said “It is alleged that the community members are saying that these shops were used for drug dealing, but that is unconfirmed. We will only be able to start a formal investigation once the shop owners come forward.”
Maybe ,the man is trying to sell the product that all South Africans are angels or saints waiting for papal beatification. This makes us to wonder how and why their greatest music export Lucky Dube was killed. It was said that the man who shot and killed Lucky thought that he was a Nigerian. This act can be described as hate crime or xenophobic act.
Considering the role Nigeria played during the South Africa dark ages known as apartheid. Nigeria as a country bankrolled and assisted the South Africans financially even gave refuge to some of them running away from the white led government, but today South Africans seems to have been suffering from incurable amnesia. This has made the other African country to see the South African government and people as ingrates.
African Union was called to resolve the issue, South Africa lambasted Nigeria. South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, spoke against Nigeria’s call and said that such issues were better discussed at the diplomatic level.
Nigeria government has registered displeasure and saying that there will be consequences if this is not checked. “This is unacceptable to the people and government of Nigeria,” said Dabiri-Erewa, Personal adviser to the Nigerian government on diaspora affairs.
She added, “We have lost about 116 Nigerians in the last two years. And in 2016 alone, about 20 were killed. This is unacceptable to the people and government of Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria and South Africa has been trade partners over the years. There has been calls for Nigerian government to nationalise the South African firms or boycott them.
According to online sources, In 2012 , 83% of trade was taken up by South African imports of Nigerian crude oil. Between 2002 and 2012 South African imports from Nigeria have increased by 750% (mostly increases in oil imports) whilst Nigerian imports from South Africa have increased by 130%.
South Africa has made great strides and inroads in the Nigerian business eco space. Companies like DSTV, MTN, ShopRite , Spar and others are few of South African businesses thriving unmolested in Nigeria…All that the Nigeria is asking is a fair playing field so it is.