International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr. Naledi Pandor has reassured ambassadors of foreign nationals living in South Africa that government is doing all it can to return calm to the country.
“We had discussions on the recent events against foreign nationals in South Africa both to reassure them that government is taking all the measures it can in order to ensure that we return stability and calm to our country,” said the Minister.
Pandor on Monday addressed media after meeting with diplomats accredited to Pretoria. The meeting with the ambassadors comes in the wake of sporadic violence in some parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Pandor said the meeting with the ambassadors also discussed steps to prevent such occurrences from happening in the future.
“We felt it vital that we create a platform for ongoing collaboration between ourselves and the embassies because they best know their nationals who are in South Africa. [They] can assist us in reaching out to them and in building what I call bridges that we must walk across in order to interact with each other as South Africans and nationals from other countries, particularly of Africa but broadly the world as well,” said the Minister.
The Minister told media that ambassadors and their respective countries are committed to working with South Africa to address the “very complex fact of socio-economic issues”.
These issues, she said, relate to migration, immigration, economic opportunities, and effective administration. Greater social cohesion is necessary to address these, said the Minister.
On Nigeria sending a special envoy to South Africa in the wake of the attacks, Pandor spoke out against the fuelling of tensions.
“I think our leaders recognize that there’s been some fuelling of tensions somewhat through social media and also commentary. This point was made by some of the ambassadors that even we as leaders sometimes make inflammatory comments that exacerbate the situation rather than helping to reduce tension.”
The ambassadors, Pandor said, mentioned political leaders who made statements that aid “animosity”, which is not helpful, given the situation.
“I indicated to them that I will share with colleagues at all levels of government that all of us need to desist from any form of public comment or private comment that contributes to increased tensions and feelings of anger and animosity.”
Embassies in Nigeria
The South African High Commission in Abuja and Consulate in Lagos temporarily closed their doors on Tuesday.
Both offices were closed on Tuesday following concerns reported to the Minister by officials at both these missions.
This followed threats against the mission staff as well as the property of South Africa.
On Tuesday morning, the department’s spokesperson, Lunga Ngqengelele, said the offices remain closed as the department awaits word from the High Commissioner.
The invitation to the meeting with the Minister was extended to ambassadors on the continent with almost all embassies from the continent and some from beyond the continent attending Monday’s meeting.