Mr. John Mahama, Ghana’s President and Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has asked the South African government to immediately put a stop to xenophobic attacks of fellow Africans and to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
Mahama, who spoke to journalists shortly after a congratulatory visit to President-elect Muhamnadu Buhari in Abuja, described as very regrettable, the attacks by South African youths on other African citizens living in their country.
“The government must sit up and must take strong action and those that have been involved in these atrocities must be brought to book and must be punished serving as a deterrent so it does not happen in future,” he said.
While recalling the contributions of African countries, especially those considered as ‘frontline states’, like Nigeria, Mahama said it is regrettable that the same people who fought against apartheid are being attacked.
He said though Nigeria is not a neighbour of South Africa, the country was considered a frontline state because of her economic contribution to the fight to liberate South Africa from apartheid.
“It is an issue that we are all worried about because of the specific circumstances of South Africa and it’s most regrettable and most unfortunate, 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 all of us who growing up as secondary school children went on marches and as part of the African Youth command boycotted classes and all that in the fight against apartheid.”
“Indeed, for several of the countries whose citizens were brutalised in South Africa, these are countries that were called frontline states and harboured the freedom fighters of South Africa and gave them safe haven, gave them passports to be able to avoid the clutches of the apartheid regime and even Nigeria.”
“It is regrettable that the same people who fought against apartheid are being attacked. The pictures we have seen are horrible. As ECOWAS, we have issued a statement condemning what is happening. The unfortunate thing is this is not the first time; it keeps flaring up and so while we are condemning this incidence, we must work with South African government to ensure that it won’t happen again. We are trying to create an integrated continent where our people can move freely among our countries.”
“This has not set a very good example for integration and especially for South Africa that has investments all over our countries,” he added.