South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Thamsanqa Dennis Mseleku, has said the newly inaugurated South Africa-Nigeria Youth Dialogue would foster greater understanding between the people of South Africa and Nigeria.
According sunnewsonline.com, the youth dialogue, Mseleku also said, would strengthen capacity of South African and Nigerian youth organisations in peace building, conflict prevention, and conflict resolution.
Mseleku, who spoke against the backdrop of the incessant killing of Nigerians and the burning and looting of their businesses in South Africa, said the aim of the youth dialogue would be achieved through the promotion of intercultural learning, civic education, tolerance, human rights education and democracy, and mutual respect for cultural, ethnic and religious diversity.
Among other issues, the former South African High Commissioner to Malaysia and Tanzania, spoke on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent visit to Nigeria and other African countries, including the outcomes of the Bi-National Commission presided over by President Ramaphosa and President Muhammadu Buhari.
What necessitated the visit of President Ramaphosa to Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal recently?
President Ramaphosa was invited to the Federal Republic of Nigeria by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the 10th session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) and state visit. The BNC is a structural bilateral mechanism that manages the relations between the countries and is organised at the highest diplomatic level. The last BNC was hosted by Pretoria, South Africa, in October 2019.
What was the outcome of the Bi-National Commission presided over by both Presidents?
Both President Buhari and President Ramaphosa reaffirmed their commitment to the historical and political relations of the two countries, and have endeavoured to strengthen and deepen these relations. The BNC also identified new areas of cooperation that will promote increased trade and investment flows for mutual benefit. South Africa and Nigeria reiterated their commitment to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and to forge closer cooperation on matters of continental integration, economic growth and development, and peace and security. The two Presidents, at the end of the 10th session of the BNC, adopted a joint communique covering key decisions taken.
The BNC deals with a number of sectoral matters, such as political and diplomatic, economic and financial, defence, social, and mineral and energy. Sectorally, the BNC is an ongoing mechanism that seeks to enhance economic cooperation between the two countries. In the recently held BNC, South Africa and Nigeria decided to highlight their relations in economic and financial matters, aviation and transport, and on minerals and energy.
The launch of the Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Industry, Trade and Investment (JMACITI) signed by the respective ministers of trade and industry was adopted by the two Presidents and is a good indicator of where the relations are going. The JMACITI, which brings together the private sector of both countries around the table to discuss common interest, seeks to cultivate business-to-business relations.
Nigeria and South Africa have longstanding relations at state level. By including the private sector, we are creating a conducive environment for trade and the creation of value chains that will be of mutual benefit for both countries in view of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The two countries are net importer and net exporter of oil in Africa, with Nigeria being the largest exporter of oil and gas in Africa, while South Africa is the largest importer of oil and gas on the continent. It is encouraging that we are strengthening our relations in oil and gas, mining and mineral processing. Our relations should be viewed as an expression of our need to enhance intra-African trade. We can all benefit by having intra-African trade, being spearheaded by the largest economy on the continent and the most sophisticated economy, and we are delighted that our working strategic relations will re-invigorate African integration.
Is South Africa now opening up to other countries?
South Africa has since 1994 been open to economic and political relations. Our country has the highest diplomatic presence of any African country. All African countries are represented in Pretoria in the form of embassies, high commissions or consulates. South Africa is also a base of the African Union organs such as the APRM and NEPAD.
How is the South Africa-Nigeria Youth Dialogue going to address the incessant killing of Nigerians and the burning and looting of their businesses in South Africa?
The South Africa-Nigeria Youth Dialogue was conceived to address common challenges faced by the youth of both countries, who will collaborate to seek solutions. In essence, it is a people-to-people mechanism to foster greater understanding between the people of both South Africa and Nigeria. The youth, in this regard, are seen as a catalyst for change in perceptions and it is their energies that we will channel to strengthen and deepen our relations.
At a more practical level, the Youth Dialogue seeks to strengthen capacity of both South African and Nigerian youth organisations in peace building, conflict prevention, and conflict resolution through the promotion of intercultural learning, civic education, tolerance, human rights education and democracy, mutual respect for cultural, ethnic and religious diversity.
Why is South Africa not allowing Nigerians to thrive in the country?
It is a misnomer to suggest that South Africa is not permitting Nigerians to thrive or prosper in our country. An immigrant that comes to South Africa is encouraged to form part of a law-abiding nation and work diligently towards the realisation of the objectives of our country. A large number of Nigerians have been part of the fabric of South African society and have proudly called South Africa home.
There are countless Nigerian expatriates who are thriving in South Africa, be it in the arts, academia or business. Many South Africans will tell you about the Vodacom advertisements of the mid-to-late 1990s and how endearing they were. Unbeknownst to many, they starred Prof. Bankole Omotoso, famous for the catchphrase “Yebo Gogo.” Professor Omotoso is an academic and writer who has lectured at the University of Western Cape and Stellenbosch University.
Another prominent scholar of Nigerian descent is Prof. Adekeye Adebajo, who is a lauded academic in South African academia and is currently the director of the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation at the University of Johannesburg.
Akin Omotoso is another world-renowned Nigerian who calls South Africa home. He is Prof. Omotoso’s son, and he has thrived as a great thespian and film director. His contribution to the South African film industry is immense. South Africans mainly remember him for his role as Khaya Motene on Generations.
Mr. Chineze Chijioke is a prominent businessperson who has called Johannesburg home since 2009 and is the founder of the Nova-Pioneer Education Group.
The way South Africans treat Nigerians while applying for visas is worrisome. Why is South Africa stingy with its visas?
The issuance of South African visas is managed through the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, as amended in 2004. The act intends: “to provide for the regulation of admission of persons to, their residence in, and their departure from the Republic; and for matters connected therewith.”
Accordingly, all persons who do not meet the requirements as stipulated in the act will not be issued with a visa.
Furthermore, diplomatic and official passport holders from Nigeria do not require a visa to enter South Africa. This provision for exemption is on reciprocal basis between the governments in South Africa and Nigeria.
Do you have a policy of issuance of multiple visas to Nigerian businessmen?
The implementation of the 10-year multiple entry visa for businesspeople is a decision of the 9th BNC. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the issues identified then could not be operationalised.
What is the feeling of South Africa regarding the travel ban slammed on it by the United Kingdom?
The South African government has been emphatic in its condemnation of the travel ban imposed by the United Kingdom, not only on South Africa, but on several other African countries, including Nigeria. We also welcome the removal of all 11 African countries from the red list.