General News of Sunday, 26 February 2017
Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, says the Government is monitoring the xenophobic situation in South Africa and asked Ghanaians business people in that country to stay indoors.
“For safety, avoid being attacked by rioters in a proposed demonstration in that country,” she said.
The demonstration was supposed to take place on Friday, but the Minister told Parliament, that checks from that country had indicated that the riot was yet to be carried out.
Also no Ghanaian has yet been affected in the recent xenophobic attacks, she said, adding: “Our embassy in Pretoria and the Foreign Ministry will continue to monitor the situation and update the country appropriately.”
Attacks against foreigners have resurfaced in South Africa, with nationals from Ghana, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe among others being made targets, on the grounds that they have taken over jobs meant for South African citizens.
The invasion spread to Pretoria where foreign-owned shops were looted overnight last Monday, extending to Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Foreign national have also been accused of using their bases as brothels, drug dens and other crimes.
The Minister, addressing a news conference, after delivering a statement on the floor of the House, said a hotline had been set, through social media and telephone for prompt response to any emergency.
She said no Ghanaian business had also been so far attacked and all were intact; and the South African Ministry of Internal Affairs, with which the Ministry interacted had also given assurance that Ghanaian nationals would be saved.
According to the Minister, the Catholic Bishops Conference in South Africa had condemned the xenophobic attacks.
The Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Michael Ocquaye, after the Minister read the statement indicated the need for the matter to be approached with caution because of its diplomatic and security implications.
However, Minority Chief and Member of Parliament (MP) for Asawase, Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka, in very emotional tone called on Ghanaians and Africans to boycott South African products and its companies due to the xenophobic attacks.
Alhaji Muntaka, who is also a member of the South African base Pan African Parliament, expressed wonder why the reoccurrence of the attacks despite the bold inscription of “one people, one voice, one nation; I am because you are”, in the Pan Africa Parliament building in South Africa.
He was at a loss why despite assurances from South African authorities, it appeared punishment for xenophobic offences had not been forthcoming, recalling that similar attacks happened in 2015.
Alhaji Muntaka asked why diplomacy should be continued to be used in addressing the maltreatment of foreign nationals while they continued to be killed and suffer in South Africa.
He suggested the need for other measures such as the relocation of the Pan African Parliament from South Africa to another country.
The Asawase MP recalled the contribution of Ghana to the South African liberation struggle and urged Ghana and other African nations to boycott all South African products and companies to send a signal to that country.
“I think the time has come for the African people to unite around this to at least, not to violently also attack their properties in our country, not to violently attack their citizens in our country but to boycott their products.
“If we begin to boycott every South African product they will begin to feel the heat home and that will let them know that we will not countenance it,” Alhaji Muntaka said.
Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensa- Bonsu, pointed out that South African, which was an economic giant at independence lost that position because of corruption, and that country went further into “dumsor” (power outage) which affected the availability of jobs.
The Majority Leader said he did not understand why Ghanaians were being accused of taking over South African jobs.
Mr Kyei-Mensah- Bonsu, as some South Africans would take up jobs which some Ghanaians are willingly applying themselves to.
The Speaker referred the statement to the Committee on Foreign Affairs for consideration and make the appropriate recommendations which may include sanctions and boycotts.
However, the Foreign Affairs Minister, in the interview with journalists, said boycotts may be the last option, adding however that the issue could be taken at the Ministers’ and Heads of State level at the ECOWAS or at the African Union Heads of State level.
Meanwhile, the House continued the debate on the President Nana Akufo- Addo’s State of the Nation Address, delivered earlier last Tuesday, February 21.