Early warning centre for South Africa and Nigeria
14 March 2017
South Africa and Nigeria have agreed to establish an early warning centre to help mitigate and monitor possible threats and violence against Nigerian foreign nationals.
The centre will be coordinated by officials from Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Police, immigration services and business representatives from both countries. They will meet quarterly to not only mitigate the threats but rather to help build on the solid relationship that the two countries share.
“The centre will enable us to always keep each other abreast and updated,” International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told the media.
The Minister held bilateral talks with her Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama as part of regular diplomatic engagements between the two countries geared towards strengthening and deepening bilateral relations.
The announcement of the early warning system comes just weeks after the tensions resulting from recent attacks against foreign nationals accused of criminal activities, especially in parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the South African government has also put in place other interventions to control such incidents. These include meetings with the diplomatic community, security operations and policy and legislation reviews which are underway.
The Minister also dismissed reports that these attacks were targeted on Nigerian nationals only, as there were others affected.
“South Africa is a constitutional democracy which enshrines human rights, Bill of Rights and democratic values, human dignity, equality and freedom.” She condemned the attacks, incitement statements and pronouncements as well as the fake news which raised the tensions further.
“We will not allow the minority, criminality, to spoil our good relations. Law enforcement agencies in both countries will be hard at work to make sure that people - from both countries – are not only safe but feel safe.”
Nigeria’s Onyeama envisaged the early warning centre to act as a “one-stop shop which will communicate with both governments on various issues.”
He reiterated that the relationship between the two countries is a special relationship hence they decided to take a firm decision to address the attacks which were from “just a small part of” South Africa’s population.
“We believe that communication is absolutely important and we believe that the positive narrative that gets out is also important. We need to reassure South African businesses in Nigeria and Nigerians here in South Africa that the two governments are fully determined to ensure that their security and all their rights are respected.”
Minister Onyeama said it will also help them to keep their eyes on preventative measures.
“We have a huge vision for South Africa and Nigeria relations…we want to implement this special alliance of good relations.”
He assured that South African businesses in Nigeria are safe – as it has been in the past.
During the meeting, DIRCO also discussed bilateral cooperation of over 34 sectoral agreements and memoranda of understandings in various fields such as tourism, defence, health, energy and education, among others. The two ministers affirmed to fully impalement all.
On continental issues - the two discussed the security situation on respective regions and reaffirmed their commitment to working together in pursuit of peace and development in the continent.