By Yekeen Nurudeen
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC has asked the government of South Africa to go beyond mere condemning the recent xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other migrants in the former apartheid country by investigating and prosecuting those who carried out the attacks. The Congress further said that the South African government should immediately take actions to prevent another occurrence.
It would be recalled that the unprovoked xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa have sparked protest in Nigeria as some youths under the aegis of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS last Thursday staged a protest in Abuja demanding end to the attacks in South Africa.
In a statement he issued in Abuja on Thursday, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba lamented that the February 2017 xenophobic attacks like the ones that took place in 2008 and 2015 was yet another unacceptable and avoidable development.
Wabba said the NLC condemned the December 2016 unguided and inciting comments by the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba when he was widely quoted as blaming foreigners for crimes and asking them to leave the city.
“We consider the Mayor’s comment as careless, uncharitable and combustive. Xenophobes find comment such as this as inspiration, especially as it is coming from high and official quarters. We expect that public officials should know better and act wiser” he said .
He maintained that the NLC, African workers and their trade unions would continue to stand for and defend civil liberties of all people, creed and race. We consider this our contribution to humanity and the quest to attain social justice.
“People, especially migrants, refugees and asylum seekers all over the world are and should be welcomed and not made targets of conscienceless attacks.
“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. It is unacceptable that foreigners, migrants, refugees and Asylum Seekers are labeled criminals as a justification to subject them to extra-judicial actions.
“NLC considers the South Africa Government’s condemnation of this recent xenophobic attack as a positive action. We however call on the government to go beyond condemnation to investigate, prosecute and sanction persons, groups or individuals that might have played any role in this mindless attack on foreigners.
“A conscious approach to accountability will send a firm signal to other potential xenophobes and xenophobia instigators and participators of the consequences that await perpetrators.
“Our contributions that led to the defeat of Apartheid were informed by this same logic. It was a duty to stand up and oppose injustice of racial minority white rule that marginalised and serially, mindlessly abused the psyche of the majority of the people. We never saw it as a debt that a liberated South Africa should pay back to the rest of us. Rather, it was a duty to us to stand against injustice anywhere, anytime.
“Yes, it is clear for us to see and know that the ills and effects of Apartheid that left not a few people and their communities dehumanized and ravaged, including breeding hate is largely still triggering and feeding xenophobic attacks in South Africa. In essence, the vestiges and hang-over of Apartheid must be consciously, systematically, steadfastly dealt with.
“We equally note that democracy and governance are not delivering the anticipated, needed and urgent gains to people. Endemic poverty remains high among the majority of the people, unemployment among all age groups and gender is growing with the youth and women more affected.
“Despondency and hopelessness are on the increase. Not a few persons easily become gullible and susceptible to manipulation such as the one currently, dangerously spreading with the undertone of nationalism and pedestrian,narrow patriotism. Extremism and hate feed on these.
“We therefore call on the South African government to do a thorough interrogation of xenophobia within her borders and to take progressive measures to rein it in. We also ask the government to muster effective protection environment for foreigners.
“We equally call on African governments to demonstrate responsive, responsible and accountable stewardship to their people as ways to mitigate the growing frustration and despondency among the people.
“Migration is and should be voluntary and optional. Factors that make it a necessity and zero-sum choice should be removed through imaginative leadership” Wabba said in the statement.