The South African government is doing all it can to return calm tensions, International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor reassured ambassadors in Pretoria following attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
“We had discussions on the recent events against foreign nationals in South Africa 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 International Relations and Cooperation Minister (DIRCO) Minister.
Pandor said the meeting with the ambassadors also discussed steps to prevent such scenes from playing out 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,” she said.
“[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,”the Minister added.
Pandor 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,” which relate to relate to “migration, immigration, economic opportunities and effective administration.”
Greater social cohesion is necessary to address these, she said.
Pandor underlined that leaders needed to be responsible when commenting on an already volatile situation.
“I think our leaders recognise 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.”
Some ambassadors identified political leaders who made statements that fuelled “animosity.”
“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,” Pandor said.
Meanwhile, the South African High Commission in Abuja and Consulate in Lagos remains temporarily closed.
Both offices were shut last Tuesday following concerns reported to the Minister by officials at both these missions. This followed threats against the mission staff.