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Protect lives, AU tells SA govt

AFRICAN Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat has called for immediate steps to protect the lives of foreigners in South Africa and that justice be done to those who suffered economic and other losses.

And the Southern African Development Community – Council of Non-Governmental Organisations has called on SADC to take urgent action on the violence in South Africa.

Mahamat condemned the incidents of violence against nationals of fellow African countries in South Africa, including the looting and destruction of their property.

In a statement, the chairperson said he was encouraged by arrests already made by the South African authorities.

Mahamat reiterated the African Union Commission’s continued commitment to support the South African government in addressing the root causes to “such despicable acts, in order to promote peace and stability, within the framework of the AU’s longstanding principles of continental solidarity.”

This is according to Ebba Kalondo, spokesperson to the chairperson.

Meanwhile, the SADC – CNGOs said the deep and systemic violence produced by Apartheid and colonialism has not been adequately addressed by the democratic government.

The Council stated that the recent outbreak of violence in South Africa was a matter of grave concern for South Africa, the SADC region and Africa as a whole.

In a statement Council executive director Glenn Farred, stated that the wave of attacks against people perceived as “foreign” were not isolated actions by a few criminal elements.

Farred stated that it was undeniable that a prevailing atmosphere of racist anti-African xenophobia has arisen in South Africa.

“It is a matter of great alarm that political parties in South Africa, without exception, have pandered to narrow, vulgar and distorted nationalism which is not only legitimising prejudice and bias but feeds the cycle of hate and racism,” he stated.

Farred stated that it was also apparent that poor South Africans were suffering greatly from a lack of dignity, human rights and opportunities for self-development.

He stated that the structural inequalities in South Africa exacerbate the psychosis of violence which society has not addressed in the more than 20 years since the transition to majority rule.

“The deep and systemic violence produced by Apartheid and colonialism has not been adequately addressed by the democratic government. The everyday violence experienced by the majority of people living in South Africa – violence against women, children and men; structural racism and sexism; homophobia and attacks on lesbians and transgendered persons – and the violence of poverty and social exclusion are clearly inextricably linked and contributes to the scapegoating of Africans for the ills and woes of the poor,” he stated.

Farred stated that the semi-orchestrated nature of the recent wave of attacks was a further alarming development, indicating an increasing level of targeting of non-nationals.

He stated that the South African body politic, stakeholders and government must end the denialism of the racist xenophobia that is being expressed through this violence and recognise that far from being sporadic, isolated acts of criminality, these are indeed organised acts of violence born of hatred.

“The continued violence in South Africa is a matter of grave concern for all Africans and must be placed urgently on the agenda of SADC to assist the government of the Republic of South Africa to intervene in this situation,” Farred stated.

“At our recent Civil Society Forum, trade unions, NGOs and faith-based organisations in the region stated clearly: ‘The 15th CSF notes with alarm the recent and continued attacks on foreign nationals, particularly in South Africa. We condemn these attacks and once more call on SADC member states to unequivocally condemn the recent and continued Xenophobia attacks and rhetoric in South Africa. The South African Government and all SADC Member States must guarantee the safety and respect for human rights of all foreign nationals present within their borders’ (15 August 2019, emphasis in the original). The SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs must be seized with the violence gripping South Africa and urgently convene itself to receive a through report from the Government of the Republic of South Africa, and agree on necessary support and assistance to be provided to SADC and African citizens and peoples within its borders.”

Farred called on the governments of Tanzania and Zimbabwe to take the necessary leadership within SADC to ensure a speedy response is put in place.

“We express our solidarity with all civil society organisations’ efforts at prevention, mediation and victim support as well as solidarity now being undertaken by our brothers and sisters in South Africa and assure them our full support in these efforts,” he stated.

“We urgently call on the President of South Africa (Cyril Ramaphosa) to meet responsible representatives of the affected communities and constituencies and to publicly re-affirm his government’s condemnation of racist xenophobia.”

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