Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo says xenophobic attacks in South Africa will make investment in the country difficult.
In a letter to Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a politician and leader of the Zulu ethnic group, on Monday, Obasanjo said the attacks were capable of scaring investors away and crippling the economy.
Buthelezi had condemned the xenophobic attacks while addressing a mob in Johannesburg.
The ex-president said it will be wrong for South Africa to believe that the attacks will make more jobs available to its citizens.
“As it is being touted that xenophobia will give South Africans more jobs, I dare say, it is fallacy,” he said.
“Xenophobia will make investment in South Africa more difficult, which will lead to lack of job creation and loss of existing jobs.”
Obasanjo faulted the South African police for not doing enough while the attacks on foreign nationals went on.
He said Africans ought to be treated as brothers and friends.
“This was experienced in South Africa in recent times and it shows either incompetence or collusion on the part of the police,” he said.
“We believe that Africans living in any other part of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends.
“If they commit any crime, they should be treated like citizens of that country will be treated when they commit crime which will mean applying judicial process.”
Obasanjo said the evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa should not be regarded as the solution to such a problem.
“Repatriation of Nigerians from South- Africa is obviously not a permanent solution. At best, it is palliative because the hurt will still remain for some time and revenge is also not the desirable solution,” he said.
“Mutual understanding and acknowledgement of what needs to be done on all sides is imperative and getting down to doing them is the solution that will serve Nigeria and South Africa and indeed Africa, particularly in this era of Africa Continental Free Trade Area opportunities.”
The ex-president called on African leaders to take the issue to the level of the African Union should South Africa fail to address the problem appropriately.
“In the final analysis, if South- Africa fails to initiate appropriate and satisfactory steps to deal with the issues to pacify affected victims and work for reconciliation, the countries concerned should come together to table appropriate motions at the African Union level first and consider other measures if the situation is allowed to continue,” he said.
“What has helped most developed countries in the world is openness and receiving migrants with open hands and open minds.
“In any case, all of us in the world are migrants, no matter where we live, depending only on how far back you want to go.”
On Wednesday, 187 Nigerians were evacuated from South Africa owing to the attacks.