Cyril Ramaphosa


On the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town, South Africa, last week ,Oby Ezekwesili alongside Nigerian entrepreneurs, professionals and the Nigerian community in South Africa led by Mr Cosmos Echie (who is the acting President of the Nigerian Community Western Cape) issued a communique in which they referred to latest events in South Africa as ‘Afrophobia’.

“It was unanimously agreed that the crisis is detrimental to the spirit of African renaissance, affirmation of black heritage, progress and development. Afrophobia compromises everything that the recently brokered intra-African trade – Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement — represents and aspires to deliver,” the communique reads.

The group also asked President Ramaphosa to apologise to Nigerians and other countries whose citizens have borne the brunt of xenophobic attacks for decades.

The South African government was also advised to trigger series of actions necessary to de-escalate the brewing conflict.

“Officials of the government of South Africa must immediately desist from making any further pejorative and incendiary comments targeting Nigerians and their country and instead publicly commit to taking preventive and surveillance measures that will foreclose a repeat of Afrophobic attacks of Nigerians and other African nationals. 

Oby Ezekwesili in a meeting with the Nigerian community in South Africa (Laniya Olaoluwa)
Oby Ezekwesili in a meeting with the Nigerian community in South Africa (Laniya Olaoluwa)

“The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, should rise to the demands of leadership and reach out to the President of Nigeria to trigger the series of dialogue and actions necessary for swift de-escalation of the brewing conflict between their two countries. 

“The President of South Africa should offer a sincere public apology to Nigeria, other countries affected by the attacks and the entire continent for the tragic hostility and harm perpetrated against their citizens. 

“The President of South Africa should send a sharp signal to South Africans and the continent by visiting the victims of the Afrophobia attacks to empathize with and reassure them of their safety in South Africa and the government should consider paying compensations for losses sustained in the attacks.

“South Africa and Nigeria should agree a mutual legal assistance cooperation scheme for tackling cases of crimes occurring among their citizens”, the communique stated further.

Oby Ezekwesili says South Africa has to do more to rein in attackers (Laniya Olaoluwa)
Oby Ezekwesili says South Africa has to do more to rein in attackers (Laniya Olaoluwa)

The group also asked “the Nigerian High Commission and Nigerians in South Africa to design a fact-based campaign to widely convey the accurate and positive narrative of the value they contribute to their host country.

“For example, South Africans must be made aware that more than 18 per cent of lecturers in their higher institutions are Nigerians. A significant percentage of the medical personnel in rural hospitals are Nigerians.

“Most Nigerians and Nigerian-owned businesses operate responsibly in legitimate and professional practices in South Africa compared to the less than one per cent of cases of shadowy activities. 

“The Nigerian government should make visible effort to guarantee the safety and security of South Africans and their businesses in Nigeria. 

“The umbrella organisation of South Africa- based Nigerians will be encouraged to launch a business platform to support the formalising processes for as many informal businesses of Nigerians as possible in order to better capture the value and impact being created and contributed to South Africa’s economic and social landscape.”

Ezekwesili also promised her expertise to the cause in the days ahead.

“The leaders of South Africa-based Nigerians will collaborate to promote a citizens diplomacy programme to foster stronger personal and business relationships between Nigerians and South Africans”, the former minister said.

Oby Ezekwesili meets with the Nigerian community in South Africa (Laniya Olaoluwa)
Oby Ezekwesili meets with the Nigerian community in South Africa (Laniya Olaoluwa)

What Ramaphosa has been saying

South Africa is home to many immigrants. However, the country’s poorest often struggle to find employment, with some South Africans blaming competition by foreigners for their plight.

Violent attacks on outsiders, particularly those from other African nations, have become a major and recurring problem in the former apartheid enclave. Some assaults have been deadly.

The attacks have stoked tensions and threatened to sour diplomatic relations between South Africa and Nigeria–two of Africa’s biggest economies.

President Ramaphosa of South Africa has repeatedly condemned the riots although he has refused to use the word ‘xenophobia’ in reference to the attacks.

The South African leader says the attacks are “a crime against our prosperity and stability as a nation. Those who want to upset our public order must expect to face the gravest impact of the law.”



Credit: Pulse News

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday cut the number of cabinet ministers from 36 to 28, in a move he said would tackle the country’s “bloated” government and improve efficiency.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa trims the cabinet and appoints women to have the positions as he seeks to get the country back on track

AFPSouth African President Cyril Ramaphosa trims the cabinet and appoints women to have the positions as he seeks to get the country back on track

Half the new ministers are women, making South Africa one of the world’s few gender-balanced governments.

Ramaphosa announced the new line-up after he led the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to victory in elections earlier this month.

He took office last year after the ousting of graft-tainted Jacob Zuma, who had expanded the number of ministerial posts in an alleged attempt to strengthen his patronage network.

“To promote greater coherence, better coordination and improved efficiency, we (are) reducing the number of ministers from 36 to 28,” Ramaphosa said in televised address to the nation.

“This is a significant move of downscaling our state. Many people believed our government… was bloated and this was agreed right across the board.”

In another dig at his predecessor, Ramaphosa said that the ANC had been re-elected with a mandate to end “state capture” — the term used to describe government corruption under Zuma.

“All South Africans are acutely aware of the great economic difficulties our country has been experiencing,” Ramaphosa said.

“It is therefore imperative… we place priority on revitalising our economy while exercising the greatest care in the use of public funds.”

“For the first time in the history of our country, half of all ministers are women,” he added.

Balance of factions

Naming his new slimline cabinet, Ramaphosa kept internationally-respected Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in place, as well as his controversial Deputy President David Mabuza.

Mabuza is seen as a pro-Zuma figure whose name has come up in media reports on alleged corruption and political killings when he was premier of the eastern province of Mpumalanga.

“The retention of Tito Mboweni as finance minister… will appease markets and result in a positive perception of cabinet,” said a briefing note from Peregrine Treasury Solutions, a South African investment company.

It added that keeping Mabuza as deputy president “indicated that President Ramaphosa had to compromise to appease the Zuma faction within the ANC.”

Ramaphosa’s close ally Pravin Gordhan was kept on as public enterprises minister, a key role as debt-laden state companies were at the centre of alleged graft schemes under Zuma.

“The cabinet announcement largely rewards the President’s supporters and seems a conservative selection without the injection of real fresh blood from the outside,” said analyst Daniel Silke on Twitter.

Ramaphosa, 66, an anti-apartheid activist who became a wealthy businessman, faces a tough battle to drive through reforms in a country suffering from chronic unemployment, racial tension and crime.

The ANC won the May 8 election with 57.5 percent of the vote, its smallest majority since it led the fight against the apartheid regime that was replaced by multi-racial democracy in 1994.

The party’s celebrated reputation was badly sullied under Zuma’s 2009-2018 rule as it was confronted by multiple corruption allegations and public anger over the failure to tackle post-apartheid inequality.

South Africa’s economy grew just 0.8 percent in 2018 and unemployment hovers at over 27 percent — soaring to over 50 percent among young people.

Credit: Pulse