Africa: Ramaphosa Deploys Special Envoys to African Heads of State Over Tensions in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa (file photo).
15 September 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa is sending special envoys to deliver messages of solidarity to several heads of state and governments across Africa amid tensions and violence in the country.

"The special envoys will deliver a message from President Ramaphosa regarding the incidents of violence that recently erupted in some parts South Africa, which have manifested in attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of property," spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement on Sunday.

The team, which includes Jeff Radebe, Ambassador Kingsley Mmabolo, and Dr Khulu Mbatha are expected to visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

This comes after widespread tensions across the country, in which people have looted both foreign and South African-owned shops while calling for an end to drug syndicates, News24 reported.

According to the Presidency, the special envoys are tasked with "reassuring fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity".

In addition, the action is also meant to reaffirm South Africa's commitment to the rule of law.

"The special envoys will brief governments in the identified African countries about the steps that the South African government is taking to bring a stop to the attacks and to hold the perpetrators to account," Diko said.

The communique from the Presidency comes a day after Ramaphosa was booed at former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's memorial in Harare on Saturday as he took to the podium, News24 reported.

Ramaphosa acknowledged there was a problem in his country and apologised to those caught in the sporadic violence that has sparked across parts of South Africa over the past two weeks.

"I stand before you as a fellow African, to express my regret and to apologise for what has happened in our country," said Ramaphosa.

He was one of many African leaders who spoke at 95-year-old Mugabe's memorial service.

Mugabe died in Singapore last week in hospital.

Ellen Chimz from Harare said she was happy to hear the apology. She explained why she participated in the booing of Ramaphosa.

"We are very angry about what South Africans are doing; we must unite, not kill one another. We are human beings like them," she said.

"They must not kill people like dogs," added Chimz.

Another Harare native, Malik Mperieki, dismissed the apology, raising concern over the lives of roughly 20% of the Zimbabwean nation who have headed south seeking better opportunities amid a struggling economy and a battle to find good employment.

"An apology [is] not sufficient, it needs more action, we need arrests, to show there is a personal feeling, a state motive to ensure our brothers in South Africa are safe," said an agitated Mperieki.

Mperieki also criticised South Africa's intelligence, saying it felt like it was not responsive enough when attempting to counter or address the ongoing spate of violence.

An elder, Jerry Dearo, said there was no room for xenophobia on a continent that needed to work together to achieve true liberation and prosperity.

"He should continue with the apology, apologise to all countries and they should never do that again," he said, referring to the xenophobic violence.

Meanwhile, Mugabe's nephew Leo Mugabe said his uncle's remains will be taken to the former statesman's home village in Zvimba.

Mugabe will be laid to rest in 30 days, when a mausoleum will be completed and ready for his burial.

Leo Mugabe, speaking to Zimpapers TV network from Mugabe's blue-roofed mansion, said his uncle's remains would leave at 09:00 for Zvimba so people at the village can pay their respects.

He said it would be returned on Monday to Harare, where it will be reserved until he is buried at Heroes Acre.

"No rituals taking place per se, the chiefs will clap hands and tell the ancestors what is taking place," the younger Mugabe explained, saying the trip to Zvimba is to give his people access.

The blue roof mansion will also remain open to the public throughout this period to allow people to pay their respects and offer condolences to the family in the lead-up to Mugabe's burial.

Source: News24

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