Weeks after the deadly xenophobic attacks in South Africa that targeted Nigerians, both countries have reached an agreement on issuing 10-year visas to businessmen, academics and frequent travellers, the Punch reports.
The move was announced at the end of the 9th Bi-National Commission of South Africa and Nigeria meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, which had in attendance leaders of both countries.
Nigeria and South Africa signed the agreement during a meeting co-chaired by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa.
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“The decision was taken to encourage more people-to-people contacts among citizens of both countries and further strengthen socio-cultural, economic and political relations,” a statement issued on Friday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu, said.
“At the meeting held at the Union Buildings, Presidential Palace of South Africa, the two presidents agreed on early warning signals to nip violence in the bud before it escalates, while taking into consideration the need to share more intelligence and promote stronger partnership in security.
“Both countries also agreed to re-establish the consular forum, which is a structured arrangement where both governments meet regularly, at least twice in a year, to discuss the welfare of citizens.
“The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, signed the minutes of the 9th session of the Bi-National Commission,” the statement added.
Buhari was in South Africa for talks with Ramaphosa after recent xenophobic attacks.
In these waves of attacks, immigrants normally targeted are from Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries who are accused of taking all the jobs and engaging in criminal activities, such as drug trafficking and theft.
Many of the shops and properties that were recently targeted in the attacks are said to be owned by foreign nationals, including Nigerians.
Scores of these foreign nationals have, so far, taken up offers to return home over safety concerns.
During his visit to South Africa, Buhari and Ramaphosa both agreed that the recent spate of attacks is unacceptable and should never happen again.
“Our two countries have also agreed to address the challenges in our relations including …challenges that saw attacks against foreign nationals, including Nigerians, and their properties which we strongly condemn,” said Buhari.
“We have decided to work and take concrete measures together to prevent the reoccurrence of such unacceptable incidents in the future.”
The two leaders further agreed that competition for business in communities is the major cause of such attacks.
“It’s a question of competition at a very low level where [local people] who have small shops feel [they must] belong exclusively to the indigenous people of that locality when it’s open to people from all over the world…
“I think Nigerians know the stand of the leadership that when you are in Rome, you do what the Romans do,” Buhari said.
“The competition was as a growth of population… so it means our respective police forces and security agencies must be very alert.
“[They must] infiltrate the communities, know their thinking and make sure they don’t allow violence to escalate,” he said.
Some South Africans, including high-profile members of the government, have, in the past, justified taking measures against the growing number of foreigners who they believe would soon take over the country if nothing is done.
However, immigrants in South Africa are actively contributing to the growth of the South African economy by engaging in and creating businesses while paying value-added tax which is generating revenue for the country.