18 March 2017

South Africa: Xenophobia - Mbeki Meets Nigerian Lawmakers

In landmark peace efforts, former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki has met with Nigeria's House of Representatives delegation over Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and looting of their properties.

The delegation led by the Leader of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila was received by the former South African leader at his private residence in Johannesburg. The meeting which was held behind closed door lasted for two hours with both parties addressing the media after their meeting where they expressed their commitments to strengthen the relationship between two leading countries in Africa.

Mbeki said: "I had a meeting with the delegation of members of parliament from Nigeria and that is very pleasing indeed when I heard the news that delegation was coming. It was important that they should come to interact with all these layers of South African society to address these particular matter which have been raised that what are the South Africans doing killing and beating up other Africans.

"I am happy to hear that they had interactions with parliament (South Africa's) and know that we are a civil society I also hope that they will interact with the government so that we can cripple this matter to end it."

Meanwhile, the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila after the closed door meeting also broached on the adoption of legislative diplomacy by both parliaments which he believed would eventually rub-off on the citizens of the two countries.

According to him: "As you are aware, we felt it was time that the parliament got in touch as you are aware we have been playing a less than proactive role in foreign relations over the years as parliamentarians so we just thought we should try something different in terms of a diplomatic approach.

"We adopted what is known, around the world, as legislative or parliamentary diplomacy. By engaging the South African parliament, engaging the stakeholders, and now we just engaged with the former president Thabo Mbeki, whose voice is still very loud here. In addition, we decided to do some kind of fact finding to see what can be done to arrest the situation and a reoccurrence of it."

The House of Representatives delegation consisted of the Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnena Ukeje-Elendu; Chairman House Committee on Special Duties, Nasir Zangon-Daura; Deputy Chairman House Committee on Diaspora , Shehu Musa; Hon. Sadiq Ibrahim, Hon. Henry Nwawuba as members.

The delegation which already met with members of South African parliament will meet with the Nigeria-South African business community and Nigerians living in South Africa today according to a statement by Media Aide to Leader of the House of Representatives, Olanrewaju Smart.

Gbajabiamila added: "Therefore, we are having a meeting with the Nigerian Community tomorrow (today) and we are meeting with some members of the South African business community tomorrow (today) as well.

"I hope that we will be able to aggregate all we've heard from parliament, what we've heard from the former president and what we will hear from the South African businesses as well as the Nigerian community and aggregate all those positions and look for possible legislative solutions and diplomatic solutions."

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