The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, has announced his government’s decision to commence the issuance of five-year visas to Nigerian professionals, business people and other frequent fliers. Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos wednesday, Munguni said his government was now prepared to eliminate the difficulties usually faced by Nigerians when seeking South African visas. The diplomat also said his government was moving away from having political diplomacy to more of economic diplomacy with Nigeria. “There has been growing concerns from both Nigeria and South Africa on the issue of visas. There have been complaints by Nigerians on how they are treated when seeking visas,” he said. “Our president has indicated that Nigeria and South Africa need to intervene by making it easier for our nationals to have visas to our two countries.
“We came to an agreement that business people and frequent fliers between South Africa and Nigeria will qualify for long-term visas of two, three, and five years. We have totally moved from political diplomacy to economic diplomacy. And to promote this new economic diplomacy, there needs to be a smooth movement of people between our two countries.” Mnguni said he had made a proposal to his government for the recruitment of more staff, so as to be able to promptly attend to the demand of Nigerians for visas to South Africa. According to him, Nigeria and South Africa’s inability to promote people-to-people relationships is responsible for the uninformed tension between them. He said it was imperative for both countries to unplug some of the “irritants” that have undermined their cohesion. “We need a friendship that resides with our people. Nigeria and South Africa need to criticise each other in a constructive way,” he said. According to him, “We need to look at how we can unplug some of the irritants that have undermined our cohesion.” South Africa is one of the leading destinations for Nigerians who travel abroad. As at 2013, there were over 250,000 Nigerians residing in the country.”