In its response to the decision of the federal government to recall its ambassadors from South Africa over the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals, the South African government has faulted the decision of the federal government describing the action as “unfortunate and regrettable”.
The South African government also stated that it would wait for the incoming administration of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari before it resumes diplomatic communication with Nigeria.
Recalling that it did not take a similar action when many of its citizens where trapped during the collapse of a guest house at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, it described the reaction of the Nigerian government as “unfortunate and regrettable”.
In a statement issued by the spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Clayson Monyela, the South African government expressed its shock that the Nigerian government would resort “to such an extraordinary diplomatic step to express outrage at actions or behaviour of another government”.
“We are not sure which actions or behaviour of the South African Government the Nigerian Government is protesting,” Mr. Monyela said.
“The South African government takes note that the outgoing government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has recalled its acting high commissioner to South Africa.
“A government resorts to such an extraordinary diplomatic step to express outrage at actions or behaviour of another government.
“We are not sure which actions or behaviour of the South African Government the Nigerian Government is protesting. It is only Nigeria that has taken this unfortunate and regrettable step. If this action is based on the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of our country, it would be curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode for whatever agenda.
“Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has just returned from Indonesia to attend the Africa-Asia Summit and the 60th Anniversary of the historic Bandung Conference.
At no stage did the Nigerian delegation present at that gathering, express its intention to formally raise the issue with the South African side.
“South Africa remains committed to a strong bond of friendship and bilateral relations with Nigeria.
The South African government also stated that it was in light of the relations between both nations that it did not blame its Nigerian counterpart over the collapse of a building in the Synagogue Church Of All Nations which killed over 84 of its citizens.
Speaking further, the South African government said “It is for this reason that when 84 of our citizens perished on Nigerian soil, we did not blame the Nigerian Government for the deaths and more than nine (9) months delay in the repatriation of the bodies of our fallen compatriots, or for the fact that when these bodies eventually returned, they were in a state that they could not be touched or viewed as required by our burial practice”.
“We will raise our concerns through diplomatic channels with the new administration that will assume office in Nigeria next month.
However, in what appears to be a mockery of the manner in which the government of Nigeria has handled the insurgency in the North East, the statement added that South Africa has been able to bring the xenophobic attack under control and has been receiving support from other African countries.
“Through our interventions, relative calm and order has been restored,” the statement read.
“We are encouraged by the solidarity our country continues to receive from other African countries and the international community.
“We shall also continue to support and not blame the Nigerian Government as it battles to deal with Boko Haram that continues to kill many innocent civilians.
We hope that the more than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram will someday be reunited with their families,” the statement said