ABUJA – President John Mahama of Ghana on Tuesday condemned the xenophobic attacks against foreign immigrants in South Africa, saying the act would hinder integration in the continent.
Mahama made this known to newsmen in Abuja after holding a closed-door meeting with the President-elect, retired Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, the South African government must sit up, show commitment to the plight of people living in their country by taking strong actions and bringing perpetrators of the act to book.
“We are trying to create an integrated continent where our people can move freely amongst our countries.
“This does not set a very good example for integration, especially for South Africa that has investments all across our countries.
“I think that the government must sit up and take strong actions.
“Those who have been involved in these atrocities must be punished to serve as a deterrent to others and to ensure that it doesn’t happen in future,’’ Mahama said.
Mahama expressed worry that the youth carrying out the xenophobic attacks did not know the history of how other African nations fought alongside them to end apartheid.
“I think that it is an issue that we are all worried about because of the specific circumstances of South Africa and it is most regrettable and most unfortunate.
“I think that the young people of South Africa do not know what happened before they gained their freedom, the whole of this continent stood behind South Africa.
“The whole of Africa stood behind South Africa to fight against apartheid. I remember growing up as secondary school child we were part of the African youth command.
“We carried out demonstrations, all in the fight against apartheid,’’ Mahama said.
Going down memory lane, the Ghanaian number one man said the countries brutalised in the xenophobic attacks were known as the frontline states that harboured South African freedom fighters during apartheid.
“The frontline states gave them safe havens, gave them passports to be able to avoid the clutches of the apartheid regime.
“Nigeria, even though not a neighbour, was considered a frontline state because of the economic contributions that Nigeria did to the ANC to be able to liberate South Africa from apartheid.
“The pictures we’ve seen are very horrible, as ECOWA, we’ve issued a statement condemning what is happening, the unfortunate thing is that this is not the first time.
“It keeps flaring up. We must work with the South Africa government to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,’’ he said.
Mahama said he was in Nigeria on behalf of heads of states of the sub-region to congratulate the country for conducting free, fair and transparent elections.
He commended President Goodluck Jonathan for the “maturity and statesmanship that he had shown in terms of conceding before the tally was done, and called on president-elect to congratulate him’’.
The Ghanaian president also said Nigeria had shown a good example for the sub-region by setting a standard for other countries awaiting elections namely Togo, Burkina Faso, Cote d’ ivoire and Guinea.
He expressed the hope that Nigeria, as the largest economy in Africa and the most populous, would show leadership and carry certain responsibilities in terms of the work of the ECOWAS.
Mahama said the problem of insurgency did not affect only West Africa but went beyond the sub-region and pledged to form strategic partnership with the country in the fight against insurgency.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the xenophobic attacks in 2008 left more than 67 people dead in South Africa. (NAN)
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