Representatives of Nigeria, South Africa and other citizens’ groups in other parts of Africa have signed a peace accord to spark off a process leading to non-violent means of settling differences and discouraging the wave of xenophobia currently rocking South Africa.
According to the President-General, NIDIA, Ms. Caro Nwosu, who signed on behalf of Nigeria, there is no alternative to peace through non-violent dialogue to foster unity on the continent while supporting the efforts of all stakeholders to wipe out xenophobia in South Africa.
Nwosu, who also presented a letter to the South African president Jacob Zuma through Mnguni, expressed concern that the xenophobic attacks were threatening to derail the hard fought freedom, democracy and peace not only in South Africa but Africa as a whole.
“We are here to show our love and concern for what is happening on the continent. We in diaspora are concerned about what is happening in South Africa through derailment of peace and violence extremism.
“We stood tall and united in times of need all these years, and that is why our hearts bleed over what is happening,” she said.
Nwosu insisted that there was no alternative to non-violence, which she said, was the only way to mend a broken community and seek to implement the law by appealing to the conscience of the great decent majority who through blindness, fear, pride, and irrationality had allowed their conscience to sleep.
In a letter NIDIA presented to Zuma, the group recommended amongst other things: mass population re-orientation by various means, deliberate government renunciation of hate speeches by political and traditional leaders, and control of the social media in moments of crisis.
Responding, Ambassador Mnguni gave further assurances that the xenophobic attacks would be quelled.
He called for unity and vowed that xenophobia and any other forms of violence would be wiped off from South Africa and the rest of the world.
He said: “Inasmuch as we are concerned, we are being strengthened by being together. That is why we are here today to ensure that we are united together to emphasise on peace through dialogue.
“This is what Nelson Mandela emphasised that despite the fact that he spent almost three decades in prison, he still embraced peace. So I say to you, we will remove xenophobia and any other forms of oppression from the face of the earth.”
The peace accord was signed by the representatives of Nigeria, South Africa, West Africa, North Africa, East Africa and Central Africa.
Despite the moves to mend fences over the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), yesterday requested the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, to use her good offices and position to investigate allegations of hate speech by the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, which resulted in killings, violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa.
In a statement signed by SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation also urged ICC to “bring to justice anyone who is responsible for these international crimes prohibited under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”.
In the petition dated April 23, 2015, SERAP said that it “considers the use of speech by the Zulu King to promote hatred and/or incite violence against non-nationals such as Nigerians, particularly in the media as a clear violation of the provisions of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court.
“Grave statements by political leaders/prominent people that express discrimination and cause violence against non-nationals cannot be justified under any law.
“This hate speech generated fear and hatred that created the conditions for violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens.
“SERAP believes that this has given rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
SERAP stated that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the prosecutor of the ICC in the current wave of xenophobic attacks, and on the basis of this asked her to: “Urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the allegations of hate speech and the accompanying killings, violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa, with a view to determining whether these amount to international crimes within the court’s jurisdiction.
“In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the South African government to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the court, so that the prosecutor is able to conclude on the basis of available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the pre-trial chamber for authorisation of an investigation.
“Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for serious human rights crimes in South Africa.
“Urge the South African government to fulfill its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC, including complying with your requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of international crimes, take testimony, and provide other support to the ICC.”
But as the outcry against the xenophobic attacks mount, the South African president once again pledged to tackle anti-migrant sentiment in South Africa and to address deep-rooted problems behind the attacks. “South Africans are not xenophobic,” he said Wednesday. “If we don’t deal with the underlying issues, it will come back.”
Zuma gave few details of government plans, but said the violence was driven by “criminal elements” as well as friction between foreigners and locals.
However, several thousand demonstrators marched through central Johannesburg yesterday to protest against a spate of deadly attacks on immigrants, after further raids by the authorities on suspected gang hideouts.
Watched by police, crowds sang songs denouncing xenophobia and carried banners that read “We are all Africans” as migrant workers crowded balconies, shouting their support.
“This march sends an important message to the world, to Africans,” David Makhura, Premier of Gauteng province of which Johannesburg is the capital, told the demonstrators. “We are going to defeat xenophobia like we defeated apartheid.
“We are here to make sure that South Africa is a country of peace for all.” Soldiers were deployed in Johannesburg this week to aid police in operations against hostels housing South African men who are accused of targeting migrants from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and other African countries.
At least seven people have been killed in three weeks of unrest that have revived memories of xenophobic bloodshed in 2008, when 62 people were killed. “I am here to make a stand, to say ‘Not in my name’,” Zain Mayet, 20, one of the marchers, told AFP.
“Keeping quiet makes me as guilty as those who are committing violence. We are here to demonstrate that not everyone in South Africa is a criminal who attacks foreign nationals.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence and called for “all efforts” to be made to avoid future attacks.
“He welcomes the public expressions of the many South Africans who have been calling for peaceful coexistence and harmony with foreign nationals,” Ban’s spokesman said in a statement.
Regional relations have been strained by the attacks, with Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique organising for some worried citizens to return home.
Neighbouring Mozambique said more than 2,000 citizens had fled the violence. Five buses also arrived back in Zimbabwe on Wednesday. (source:thisday)
one of the best tactics to fight violence is peace.