Nigerians resident in Cape Town under the aegis of Nigerian Community Western Cape (NCWC) have suggested far-reaching steps that Nigeria and South Africa must take to end the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.
They highlighted these measures at an interactive session with former Minister of Education Obiageli Ezekwesili on the sideline at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town, South Africa.
Selected leaders of the Nigerian Community, entrepreneurs and professionals led by Acting President of NCWC, Mr. Cosmos Echie, attended the meeting.
The interactive meeting discussed the xenophobic crises, which the group prefers to describe as Afrophobia.
NCWC declared Afrophobia was detrimental to the “spirit of African renaissance, affirmation of black heritage, progress and development.
“Afrophobia compromises everything that the recently brokered intra-African trade – Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement — represents and aspires to deliver.’’
A communiqué at the end of the interaction advised Nigeri and South Africa governments to open channels of bilateral dialogue to mutually find a permanent solution to the crises for the sake of the economic advancement of both their countries and the entire continent.
On its part, the group said South Africa must immediately trigger the series of actions necessary to de-escalate the brewing conflict by instructing its officials to desist from making “further pejorative and incendiary comments targeting Nigerians and their country and instead publicly commit to taking preventive and surveillance measures that will foreclose a repeat of Afrophobic attacks of Nigerians and other African nationals.”
It also encouraged President Cyril Remaphosa to offer “sincere public apology to Nigeria and other countries affected by the attacks and the entire continent for the tragic hostility and harm perpetrated against their citizens.”
NCWC further encouraged Remaphosa to visit victims of the attacks and offer compensations for their losses.
It also called for comprehensive prosecution of perpetrators of the Afrophobia attacks to ensure punishment, arguing “the absence of consequence has enabled repeat violence against Nigerians and other nationals from African countries.”
On their parts, Nigerians resident in South Africa, according to the body “should design a fact-based campaign to widely convey the accurate and positive narrative of the value they contribute to their host country.”
Some of these narratives, the body pointed out, is fact that more than 18 percent of lecturers in South African universities are Nigerians just as medical practitioners in rural hospitals are Nigerians.
Also, most Nigerians and Nigerian-owned businesses operate responsibly in legitimate and professional practices in South Africa compared to the less than one percent of cases of shadowy activities.
It also encouraged umbrella organisations of South Africa- based Nigerians to launch a business platform to support the formalising processes for as many informal businesses of Nigerians as possible to better capture the value and impact being created and contributed to South Africa’s economic and social landscape.
Ezekwesili promised her expertise in working with the NCWC to ensure their goal to help achieve the formalizing platform.