The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has condemned the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
A statement signed by Ayuba Wabba, the NLC President, said the February attacks, like the attacks of 2008 and 2015, were unacceptable and avoidable.
The Nigerian Community in South Africa had in recent weeks suffered renewed xenophobic attacks by South Africans. While speaking on behalf of other Nigerians in South Africa in February, Ikechukwu Anyene, a leader of the community, confirmed the attacks and looting of Nigerian-owned businesses in Pretoria West.
The development prompted the Nigerian government to call on the African Union and the South African government to take decisive measures to protect Nigerian citizens and other Africans within South African borders.
Similarly, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, described the attacks as an “unnecessary setback”.
In its statement on Thursday, Mr. Wabba urged the South African Government to move without further delay and take actions to prevent another occurrence.
“For Africa and South Africa, the pursuit of togetherness, care, warm reception towards
and hospitality to others are some of the enduring attributes and essence of the Ubuntu spirit,” he said.
“It is unacceptable that foreigners, migrants, refugees and Asylum Seekers are labeled criminals as a justification to subject them to extra-judicial actions.”
The NLC leader said it considers the South Africa Government’s condemnation of this recent xenophobic attack as a positive action, stressing that the government should go beyond condemnation to investigate, prosecute and sanction persons, groups or individuals that might have played any role in this mindless attack on foreigners.
While condemning the comments of Herman Mashaba, the Mayor of Johannesburg, who was widely quoted as allegedly blaming foreigners for crimes and asking them to leave the city, the NLC said the Mayor’s comment was “careless,
uncharitable and combustive”.
“Xenophobes find comment such as this as inspiration, especially as it is coming from high and official quarters,” Mr. Wabba said.
Commenting further, the union leader noted that African workers and their trade unions will continue to stand for and defend civil liberties of all people, creed and race. He said the contribution of workers to humanity and the quest to attain social justice led to the defeat of apartheid.
“In essence, the vestiges and hang-over of Apartheid must be consciously, systematically, steadfastly dealt with,” he added.
Mr. Wabba also argued that democracy and governance are not delivering the anticipated, needed and urgent gains to people, stressing that endemic poverty and unemployment remain high amongst the majority of the people.
“This is against the background where global wealth (including in Africa) continues to grow, but the gains are crassly appropriated by the 1%,” the statement said.
“Worst still, the class of the 1% has successfully captured power and government and so they continue to attract and enjoy obscene concessions and patronages from politicians and governments to the detriment of the constituents and constituencies that elected them.
“Xenophobia thus becomes one of the ways that
accumulated and growing frustrations find expression.”
The NLC, therefore, called on the South African government to do a thorough interrogation of xenophobia within her borders and to take progressive measures to rein it in.
Meanwhile, the South African government had earlier condemned the attacks, saying it will introduce teaching of history in schools to help South Africans understand the roles Nigeria and other African countries played during the apartheid struggle.
At least 20 Nigerians were reportedly killed in attacks in South Africa in 2016.