South Africa has been hit by an outbreak of attacks on migrants from other African countries as the nation prepared to host a meeting of political and business leaders from across the continent.
A spate of violence that broke out in suburbs south of Johannesburg’s city center on Sunday and spread to the central business district on Monday saw the destruction of more than 50 shops and business premises mainly owned by Africans from countries in the rest of the continent such as Nigeria and Somalia. Cars and properties were torched and widespread looting took place.
The attacks come ahead of the beginning of the African edition of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town on Sept. 4 and before a state visit to South Africa by President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, a country whose nationals have been affected, next month.
“The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable,” the government of Nigeria said on Twitter. “Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure safety and protection of her citizens.”
The violence echoes sporadic outbreaks of attacks mainly targeting migrants from other African countries in some of South Africa’s poorest areas. In 2008 about 60 people were killed and over 50,000 forced from their homes and in 2015 seven people died in violence. Migrants are seen as competition for scarce jobs and government services.
Other Nigerian politicians, including former presidential election candidate Oby Ezekwesili called for stronger intervention by the government. The government has summoned South Africa’s ambassador, the Punch newspaper reported.
In a separate development, South African truckers on Monday started a wildcat strike, protesting against foreign truck drivers. More than 20 people were arrested in connection with attacks on trucks, possession of firearms and other weapons and blocking of roads in Richards Bay, a key port, and other parts of the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal province, police said.
Zambia warned its truck drivers, many of whom drive goods south to the South African port of Durban, to stay out of the country. Newsday, a Zimbabwean newspaper, reported that trucks were queuing on the Zimbabwean side of the border with South Africa at Beitbridge, with drivers reluctant to cross. Newspapers also reported that truck drivers were waiting for calm in eSwatini and Botswana.
“It is barbaric to attack people simply because they are foreigners, it is not acceptable,” Chanda Kasolo, permanent secretary in Zambia’s information ministry, said on national television. “Our leaders are doing everything possible to communicate with the South African government to ask them to take better control of things.”
South African politicians condemned the violence, in which one person was shot dead, according to eNCA, a local television station. At least 110 people were arrested.
Looting spread to Alexandra, an impoverished area in northern Johannesburg, overnight and there was unrest in Marabastad in Pretoria, 702 Talk Radio reported.
There was a police presence in central Johannesburg on Tuesday with some shops and schools closed. Major companies including Anglo American Plc, Absa Group Ltd. and AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. either closed their offices in the city center or reduced staffing.
Still, politicians from the ruling African National Congress have in the past made anti-immigrant comments and Johannesburg’s mayor, Herman Mashaba, has attracted criticism from human rights groups for his frequent attacks on undocumented migrants. Mashaba is a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance.
While ANC politicians including Ace Malagasy, the secretary-general of the ANC, and David Makhura, an ANC politician and premier of Gauteng province, in which Johannesburg and Pretoria lie, have said there is no justification for the violence South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is yet to make a public statement.
“There is an utter absence of leadership in this country,” said Claude Baissac, the head of Eunomix Business & Economics Ltd. “Lawlessness, lack of hope, lack of opportunity. It’s a country that’s slowly, slowly but continuously slipping into state failure.”
Aliko Dangote, ex-Emir of Kano test negative for coronavirus-Africanews
Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote on Sunday (March 29) revealed that he had tested negative for COVID-19. According to him, he took the test as a global citizen and business leader.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted modern society, affecting our collective health and well-being,” he said in a tweet.
After an initial 200 million naira donation to the federal government for the efforts to combat the pandemic, the Dangote Foundation convened a private-sector led initiative to support ongoing government efforts.
“CACOVID (Coalition Against COVID-19) is an initiative that I am leading with other private sector leaders and our common goal is to support ongoing Government initiatives with our resources in the fight against Covid-19. We are in this together & I am optimistic we will overcome,” he said in another tweet.
Meanwhile, a test result for Nigeria’s former Emir of Kano also came out negative. The Emir’s close ally and friend governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, reported testing positive on Saturday.
The two had met earlier this month after the Emir was dethroned by the state government and banished to exile in neighbouring Nasarawa State. el-Rufai visited the Emir and escorted him to Lagos after a court ordered his release.
South Sudanese President appoints five Vice Presidents
South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir on Friday appointed rebel leader Riek Machar as vice president, paving way for the formation of a unity government that seeks to end six years of war.
“I President Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan, do hereby issue a decree for the appointment of Dr. Riek Machar Teny as first vice president of South Sudan with immediate effect,” said a statement read on state television.
The presidential decree also dissolved all institutions at national and state levels,” Information Minister Michael Makuei told AFP.
The decree was read on state television, the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, appointing Machar as the first of five vice-presidents in a bloated cabinet to accommodate various warring parties.
But consensus has only been reached on three of the four others, including current first vice president Taban Deng Gai, a former Machar ally who defected.
James Wani Igga from Kiir’s ruling party, and Rebecca Nyandeng, a former minister and Kiir ally-turned-critic are the other named vice-presidents as part of the long-awaited unity government..
The swearing-in ceremony will take place on Saturday, Makuei said. Kiir had initially said his longtime rival would be sworn-in on Friday, after they had reached the unity deal
“The vice presidents will take oath tomorrow and thereafter we will continue to process the appointments of the cabinet and appointment of the governors of the 10 states and three chief administrators of the three administrative areas,” Makuei told AFP.
Meeting the deadline
Saturday is the third deadline for the formation of the unity government which was agreed upon in a September 2018 peace deal, but pushed back as crucial issues remained unresolved.
Key among these were the delineation of state boundaries, formation of a unified national army and security arrangements for Machar, who has been living in exile since 2016.
A last-minute deal on the number of states was achieved, although little progress has been made on the other issues.
The leaders have come under increased pressure in recent weeks both from regional heads of state and main donor, the United States, to form the government.
A compromise by Kiir to cut to 10 the number of states, which he increased unilaterally to 32 after independence, was seen as key in moving towards the creation of the government.
However the opposition remains reticent about an additional three “administrative areas” pushed through by Kiir.
Machar spokesman Manawa Peter Gatkuoth said the two men would “continue to solve the problem” after the government is formed.
Dare to hope?
“This is a major step forward, if indeed they form the government as they say,” Alan Boswell, a South Sudan expert with the International Crisis Group (ICG) told AFP.
“Kiir’s compromise on the states issue paved the way for the two sides to finally move forward, even if the parties have much more to work through in the coming weeks, months, and years.”
Machar was sacked as vice-president in 2013 and later accused of plotting a coup against Kiir, kickstarting a civil war characterised by violence, rape and UN warnings of ethnic cleansing.
A 2015 peace deal brought Machar back as vice-president and he returned to Juba with heavy security.
When that deal fell apart in July 2016, the capital was plunged into a brutal battle between their rival armies and Machar was forced to flee on foot.
The ensuing war drew in new parts of the country and other local grievances and disputes came to the fore.
Several heads of state are expected to attend Saturday’s inauguration, although no names have been confirmed.
DRC warlord nicknamed terminator slammed 30 years sentence by ICC
A former Congolese rebel leader has been sentenced to 30 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Fighters loyal to Bosco Ntaganda carried out gruesome massacres of civilians, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) said in July.
Ntaganda, nicknamed “Terminator”, was convicted on 18 counts including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers.
The sentence is the longest that the ICC has handed down.
Ntaganda was the first person to be convicted of sexual slavery by the ICC and overall the fourth person the court has convicted since its creation in 2002.
The Rwanda-born 46-year-old former rebel has been involved in numerous armed conflicts in both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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