SA xenophobia: Africa reacts Posted On : April 18th, 2015 | Updated On : April 18th, 2015

 

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The upsurge in xenophobic violence in South Africa that started in the port city of Durban a few weeks ago has angered African countries, many of whose citizens have been targeted.

Foreign-owned shops have also been attacked and looted in Johannesburg, which experienced the worst of similar violence in 2008.

African nations feel particularly affronted by the attacks, given the support the continent gave to South Africa during its long fight against white-minority rule. Here are some reactions:

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Zambia: Music blackout and boycott

Zambia’s biggest private radio station Q FM has announced on its Facebook pagethat it has “indefinitely blacked out the playing of South African music in protest against xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals taking place in that country”.

picture of QFM radio logo with no to xenophobia caption
The radio station now features a special protest logo on its Facebook page

“We need to send a clear message to South Africans that violence on fellow Africans negates African unity which the forefathers of the continent fought for,” the station said.

Protest in Lusaka
Protesters in Zambia were encouraged to wear black using the hashtag #blackfriday

Earlier, a small group of Zambian protesters went to the South African High Commission in Lusaka to complain about the xenophobia, reports the BBC’s Meluse Kapatamoyo.

Malumbo Siwale in Zambia tweeted using the hashtag #blackfriday, which has been trending on twitter in Zambia: “Not buying or using South African products today, fight #xenophobia by pressuring the #SA govt to act #blackfriday”.

#Xenophobic SA: Reaction on Twitter

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Mozambique: Mine and gas workers evacuated

A road block has been set up near the Ressano Garcia border post with South Africa by a group of people who are stopping vehicles with South African number plates from entering the country and reportedly stoning some of them.

Mozambican workers at mining and gas companies have also protested about the violence, downing tools on Thursday demanding that South African employees leave – and that their jobs should be taken by those fleeing the violence in South Africa, says the BBC’s Jose Tembe.

Sasol's headquarters in Johannesburg
South Africa’s largest oil producer Sasol is repatriating 340 South Africans from Mozambique

South African petrochemicals firm Sasol and Brazilian mining giant Vale have since evacuated some of its foreign workers.

The government has asked people not to retaliate against South Africans and urged Mozambican not to go to South Africa – some make the trip from the capital, Maputo, to go shopping at the weekend – so the situation does not escalate. An anti-xenophobia march in Maputo is also planned for Saturday.

A Mozambican youth group has posted this suggestion on its Facebook page: “In view of the xenophobic disgrace coming from South Africa, the Youth Parliament advocates that electricity and gas supplies to South Africa be suspended until [South Africa’s President] Jacob Zuma comes to Mozambique to redeem himself.”

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Malawi: Goods boycott call

There have been calls for people to stop buying South African goods and services, spearheaded by John Kapito, executive director of the Consumers Association of Malawi (CAMA).

“We’re urging Malawians to boycott all South African shops and goods,” he told the BBC.

“We’re giving them one week to close their shops. On Friday next week we will physically close all South African shops like Shoprite and Game, if they don’t close on their own. If they don’t want us in their country, we don’t want their goods here too.”

Billy Mayaya, an activist in the capital, Lilongwe, has said that there are street demonstration planned next Tuesday, where protesters will deliver a petition to the South African High Commission – two days after the government plans to begin the repatriation of some of its citizens from South Africa.

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Zimbabwe: Protest and artist boycott calls

A demonstration in Harare
The protesters sang the South Africa national anthem Nkosi Sikelela’ iAfrica (God Bless Africa)
A demonstration in Harare
Riot police dispersed the protesters

Riot police in the capital, Harare, dispersed a crowd of protesters outside the South African embassy after they tried to force open the gates.

They were singing the South African national anthem Nkosi Sikelela’ iAfrica (God Bless Africa) and the deputy ambassador eventually came out to receive their petition.

Screengrab from Trendsmap

Hashtags about xenophobia are trending – and the BBC’s Brian Hungwe in Harare says there are some messages going around on WhatsApp encouraging people to boycott South African acts at the upcoming Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa), which runs from 28 April to 2 May – but no artists have cancelled.

Zimbabwe’s state-owned Chronicle reports that repatriation documents for 1,000 Zimbabweans in Durban have been arranged and the evacuation will begin on Sunday.

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Nigeria: MPs debate action

Lawmakers in the lower house passed a motion on Thursday to recall the Nigerian ambassador to South Africa for consultations over the attacks. But an amendment calling for Nigeria to sever diplomatic ties with South Africa was defeated.

The MPs also debated whether to use existing legislation to put pressure on South African businesses in Nigeria if the attacks continued.

 

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Libya crisis: Obama appeals to Gulf states 6 hours ago From the sectionAfrica

Fighters from the Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn), an alliance of Islamist-backed militias, take cover as during clashes with an opposing militia in Bir al-Ghanam, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital on March 19, 2015

 

President Obama has called on Gulf nations to use their influence on Libya’s warring factions to help resolve the chaotic situation there.

He said those nations had been seen to “fan the flames of military conflict” in the North African country.

Libya has been in turmoil since the removal of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

There are two rival governments and numerous militia controlling their own patches of territory.

Divisions have emerged among Gulf nations on Libya, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reportedly bombing Islamist targets in Libya and Qatar expressing reservations about such operations.

President Barack Obama (R) greets Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi after their joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington April 17, 2015
President Obama discussed the situation in Libya with the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi

But Mr Obama said the crisis in Libya, where Islamic State has built a presence, could not be ended with “a few drone strikes or a few military operations”.

“We’re going to have to encourage some of the countries inside of the Gulf who have, I think, influence over the various factions inside of Libya to be more cooperative themselves,” Mr Obama told reporters.

“In some cases, you’ve seen them fan the flames of military conflict, rather than try to reduce them.”

The US president is due to host leaders of the six leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council – from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – next month at the White House.

Migrants rest after they disembarked in the Sicilian harbour of Augusta, April 16, 2015

 

Many migrants have travelled from Libya to try to reach Europe

People trafficking networks have thrived during Libya’s instability, making it the major departure point for migrants attempting the often dangerous journey to Europe.

President Obama was speaking alongside the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, whose authorities have picked up more than 10,000 migrants in recent days.

Mr Renzi said the only way to solve the problem would be to restore stability to Libya.

“I think the Mediterranean is a sea and not a cemetery. The problem at this moment is the situation on the ground in Libya,” he said.

Among the latest to be rescued by the Italian coastguard were a group of 70 migrants, many of whom were badly burnt by a cooking gas canister explosion, the UN said.

Rescued migrant talks about attempt to reach Italy 18 April 2015 Last updated at 09:58 BST

 

Over the last week, Italy has rescued around 10,000 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea.

Among them was a 21-year old student from Eritrea, who was picked up on Monday, along with 480 fellow migrants.

James Reynolds spoke to him about his hopes for the future.

Iranian ship convoy moves toward Yemen, alarming US officials- By Kristina Wong – 04/17/15 06:39 PM EDT

 

U.S. military officials are concerned that Iran’s support for Houthi rebels in Yemen could spark a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and plunge the region into sectarian war.

Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships — some with weapons — toward Yemen in a potential attempt to resupply the Shia Houthi rebels, according to two U.S. defense officials.Officials fear the move could lead to a showdown with the U.S. or other members of a Saudi-led coalition, which is enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen and is conducting its fourth week of airstrikes against the Houthis.

Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission.

What’s unusual about the new deployment, which set out this week, is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it, officials said. Instead, they appear to be trying to “communicate it” to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.

It is not clear what will happen as the convoy comes closer to Yemen. Saudi Arabia has deployed ships around Yemen to enforce the blockade, as has Egypt. An official said the ship convoy could try to land at a port in Aden, which the Houthis have taken over.

Although the U.S. is assisting with the Saudi-led air campaign, it is not participating in the naval blockade of Yemen, said U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. Pat Ryder.

However, the U.S. Navy is in the region and has already “consensually boarded” one Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea on April 1 on the suspicion it was illegally carrying arms for the Houthis.

None were found, but the move raised alarm bells in Washington over an increasingly active U.S. military role in the conflict. The Pentagon indicated this week that more boardings could occur.

“We will continue to vigilantly defend freedom of navigation and to conduct consensual searches in an effort to ensure that drugs, human trafficking, weapons trafficking and other contraband are limited,” Army Col. Steve Warren said on Monday.

Officials fear a naval confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia could escalate what has become a proxy war between the two countries.

The U.S. has been supporting the airstrikes with intelligence and logistical support, and last week began refueling Saudi fighter jets. Administration officials say it is important to support Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, a senior State Department officials said the U.S. would try to ensure that a United Nations Security Council arms embargo against Houthi leadership is enforced.

“We will be taking very careful look and examining very closely efforts to violate the embargo,” senior State Department official Gerald Feierstein told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The deepening of the conflict comes as the U.S. hopes to reach a deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Officials say U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition has not affected the negotiations with Iran.

The conflict also threatens to complicate U.S.’s relations with Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, an Iran ally, criticized Saudi Arabia for its airstrike campaign during a visit to Washington this week.

U.S. officials say they are unsure why Iran is making the brazen move. One theory they have floated is that the Saudi-led coalition has effectively blockaded any air routes into Yemen and there are no other ways to resupply the Houthis.

Another theory is that Iran is trying to distract the coalition from another ship it has tried hard to conceal that is currently docked at Oman — a potential land route for smuggling arms into Yemen.

Yet another theory is that Iran wants to force a confrontation with Saudi Arabia that it believes it will win, because Iran views the Saudi military as weak and suspects the U.S. lacks the willpower to support its Gulf ally.

Earlier this week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Twitter taunted Saudi Arabia, calling its military puny and smaller than Israel’s. He also said the air campaign was tantamount to genocide of innocent Yemeni civilians and that the U.S. would also fail in Yemen.

U.S. officials say they hope the airstrikes will force Houthis to the negotiating table in order to restore stability in Yemen, where America faces a terrorist threat from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

“We’re assisting the Saudis to protect their own territory and to conduct operations that are designed to lead ultimately to a political settlement to Yemen,” said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday.

“That’s good for the people of Yemen, first and foremost. It’s good for Saudi Arabia that doesn’t need this on its southern border.  And … it’s good for us, among other reasons, because of AQAP’s presence in Yemen. But for that to occur, it’ll require more than military action,” he added.