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South Africa Should Be Reported To ICJ

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Recently, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) President Emeritus, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, addressed South Africans in which he condemned xenophobicattacks but his speech was disrupted. Buthelezi is the moderating voice crying out against xenophobic attacks in South Africa against black African migrants, while other leaders watch with indifference.

“I’m very depressed because I’m depressed for my country. When my country is in a crisis – and as an elder – I feel very, very concerned, especially because I tried to say I hadn’t come to judge anyone. My message was to say we are family with the other African countries. Families have differences and so on, but the main thing is that we need each other,” Buthelezi said.

He pointed out that attacking African migrants was going to have “consequences” for the country. “Our stores are being attacked in Nigeria, the football team from Zambia didn’t come. This has consequences for us … This behaviour, in fact, is like shooting ourselves in the foot because many people who help us from other countries will [no longer] help us.” Buthelezi said the gathering was meant to be a “government meeting” but national and Gauteng political heads of department pulled out at the eleventh hour. He said he was concerned the government wasn’t taking the problem seriously and that to him, it seemed “we’re fiddling while Rome is burning”. “It seems to me like they have not realised the seriousness of the situation we’re facing as a country. “I can see the country collapsing if this isn’t taken seriously,” he warned.

Buthelezi was right, the government of South Africa is not taking the xenophobic attacks against African nationals in their country serious. Even when they show outrage, it is nothing more than cosmetic. They seem to relish the killing and looting of properties of African migrants in their country. It gives them reprieve from being held accountable for the growing frustration of their people whom they have failed to provide for.

In January 2019, the ANC decided to take up the issue of undocumented immigrants in the election, arguing that it is what voters are concerned about. Previously, the governing party denounced Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba as populist and xenophobic, for championing a tough stance against undocumented immigrants. ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said the matter was consistently raised by the people during the party’s interaction with voters in its door-to-door campaign. He said the party had listened and would act on it. “This issue of undocumented foreigners was raised by the general society in South Africa. That is why the ANC wants to focus on it and deal with it once and for all,” he said. Magashule said people also raised concerns that undocumented foreigners were not paying tax and were running businesses in the townships without licences. He said the ANC was not being opportunistic, but had listened to the cries of South Africans.

Similarly, President Cyril Ramaphosa told ANC supporters during the party’s rally at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, that government wants to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants who come to South Africa. The tacit support of South African politicians can only be the plausible reason why the xenophobic attacks have festered without serious actions by the South African government against the perpetrators of the attacks, which have emboldened the attackers. That is why the federal government should look closely to the advice to take the South African government to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This latest advice is coming from no less a personality than the former minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi.

Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi urged the federal government to take South Africa before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for failing in its duty of care and protection for Nigerian citizens in the country. He also called on Nigeria to file complaints against specific South African officials at the global court for aiding and abetting the xenophobic attacks.

In a statement issued in Lagos Prof Akinyemi listed the culpability of South African officials as follows: “The statement credited to Dr. Grace Naledi Mandisa Pandor, South African Minister of International Relations, that Nigerians were drug dealers; The statement credited to Deputy Police Minister Bongani Mkongi that they fought for their land and that that land would not be surrendered to immigrants; The statement credited to the South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula that South Africa is an angry nation and that the country could not prevent the xenophobic attacks; Various statements credited to South African diplomats blaming the immigrants; The anti-immigrant acts by the South African immigration service officials, which for all practical purposes amount to holding Nigerian immigrants hostage by refusing to allow them to be evacuated.”

Akinyemi said: “I have come to the conclusion that the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other immigrants are acts sponsored or condoned by the South African state in violation of Article 2, paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Article 2, paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; United Nations Convention on the elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination; and International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers. “I, therefore, call on Nigeria to sue South Africa before the International Court of Justice for failure in its duty of care and protection of Nigerian citizens resident there. “I call on Nigeria to file complaints against specific South African officials at the International Criminal Court for aiding and abetting the xenophobic attacks.” This column cannot agree more with Prof Akinyemi.

Over the years the South African government had looked the other way while their citizens kill and destroy properties of African migrants without consequence to the perpetrators. The government of South Africa has the responsibility to protect the lives and properties of those within its territory whether they are South Africans or foreigners. This time Nigerian government must show South African government and its people that they cannot kill foreigners in their country without consequence. Perhaps taking the country to ICJ will make South Africa come to its senses and behave responsibly as expected of a key member of the international community.

–Aluta Continua!

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