Kenya leads CPA Parliamentary Forum in Condemning the Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa
The Kenyan Delegation attending the 50th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region Conference in Zanzibar, Tanzania, this morning led other regional legislators in strongly condemning the wave of anti-foreigner violence that has hit the South African Capital, Johannesburg among other cities in the country.The violence that broke out in Jeppestown, Johannesburg on September 1, has led to several deaths and massive destruction of property.
Through a motion of adjournment introduced by the association's Vice Chairperson, Hon. Mwansa Mbulakulima (Zambia), and which saw the temporary suspension of today's morning session business at the conference to debate the matter, fired up Parliamentarians from across all CPA Member States represented in the meeting called on the government of South Africa to walk the talk and go beyond the issuing of terse statements on the matter.
The MPs who expressed their dismay on the kind of violence meted on fellow African immigrants living in South Africa by organised gangs called on South Africa to adopt an attitudinal change, noting that the current unfortunate developments in the country were tantamount to mean that the nation is characterised by ingratitude, even after many African nations played a crucial role in the liberation of South Africa, which among the last countries to attain independence in the continent.
They further urged for policy interventions to ensure that students in schools undertake lessons on how far South Africa has come in her struggle against apartheid, and the role her neighbours, among other African nations played in that regard. There is a general feeling that many young South Africans such as those involved in the violent chaos are not in touch with such history.
They also lamented that the violence now puts at risk not only nationals from their respective countries, but also themselves when their Parliaments send them on assignments in South Africa. The Pan African Parliament; the legislative organ of the African Union, is based in Midrand, South Africa.
The Kenyan delegation led by the Chairperson of the Executive Committee, CPA Africa Region and the Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Justin Muturi, urged their counterparts from South Africa to impress upon the government on the need bring to book the perpetrators of the violence so as to restore confidence of expatriates and other residents from the rest of Africa living in South Africa.
"We wish to let our colleagues from South Africa know that we are not criticising them for no apparent reason. We are concerned that Africans from other parts of the continent cannot freely interact with their fellow Africans in South Africa", he submitted, " We therefore urge the Government of South Africa to find a lasting solution to this situation"
Speaker Muturi who as chair of the session had allowed the Members to ventilate on the matter, noted that it was unfortunate that sections of the African Continent would find it hard to interact with each other.
In his statement condemning the violence, the Leader of the Minority in the National Assembly, Hon. John Mbadi asked the South African government to take action beyond issuing statements condemning the chaos. Yesterday, several leaders in the South African Government including the President, Cyril Ramaphosa issued statements condemning the violence.
He underscored the need for Africans to learn how to integrate amongst themselves noting that the physical borders that divide their countries are just imaginary as all Africans are the same people. He further called upon the forum to be candid and not to shy away from criticising South Africa, given that this is not the first time that such attacks were taking place. He challenged his South African colleagues to push their government for action, adding that if no action is taken, such behaviour could be replicated in other parts of the continent.
"When a child in your homestead misbehaves, the whole household gets a bad name and it is your responsibility to come out strongly and discipline that child in a manner that demonstrates to the whole village that you do not condone such behavior", he noted. Specially elected Member, Hon. Dennitah Ghati while adding her voice to the debate, noted that such violence does not only put at risk the lives of innocent children and women, but also people with disability.
While echoing the sentiments by Hon. Mbadi, Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua informed the forum that when Starehe MP Charles Njaguah made xenophobic statements against Tanzanians, the government of Kenya was quick to apprehend him noting that such actions are likely to severe relations between states if condoned. He recalled that it took a visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta to Tanzania, in what he described as "The peacock diplomacy", to resolve the situation which was threatening to severe Kenya's relations with her neighbour. He appealed to South Africa to take cue and come up with a decisive action to apprehend the criminals fueling the violence.
There was a brief light moment; an interlude from an otherwise very animated session, when Senator Wambua asked the South Africas to seek God for wisdom on how to deal with the matter. He further urged them to seek guidance from the Biblical Book of James Chapter 1:5.
The Chairperson of the Council of Provinces in South Africa in a reaction to the Members' concerns had earlier indicated that his government would be seeking counsel from their neighbours, in pursuit of wisdom on how to deal with the matter.
The Speaker of Uganda Hon. Rebecca Kadaga while condemning the violence, urged the affected nations to restrain their people against revenge. She however asked South Africa to style up on its dealings with other African countries noting that Ugandans seeking South African visas have often been mistreated at the country's High Commission in Kampala
Delegates from Nigeria- whose nationals have majorly been affected by the current violence decried the inhumane treatment of their nationals by South Africans. Noting that the Speaker of the House of Representatives Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has since cut short his participation in the forum and flown back to Abuja to reconvene the House to discuss the situation in Johannesburg, they warned that lack of action by South Africa could attract serious action by Abuja.
Led by the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentary Forum Hon. Zainab Gimba, they urged the urged that the CPA forum passes a resolution to send a delegation to the Government of South Africa to discuss the situation. Ghana, Eswatini (formerly, Swaziland), Malawi and Zambia also expressed their concerns over the situation.
Responding to the concerns, the Deputy Speaker of the South African Parliament Hon. Lechesa Tsenoli and the Chairperson of the Council of Provinces, Hon. Amos Masondo acknowledged that the South African legislators were indeed embarrassed by the situation back home. They both aportioned blame on organised gangs, but promised that their respective legislatures were already dealing with the matter through relevant Parliamentary Committees. They reported that the Gauteng Legislature, which oversees the areas affected by the violence was already seized of the matter, and were already visiting the areas affected to calm the situation.
The 4-day forum which ends today is expected to make a resolution on the matter during its annual general meeting.