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Jacob Zuma

S/Africa’s xenophobic attacks mock latest AU stand on free movement of people, goods

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The currently momentary xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals and mainly Nigerians in parts of South Africa have put on edge the recently sealed understanding by African Heads of State on free movement of persons and goods across the continent.

Business Hilights recalls that the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), at its 661st meeting held on 23 February 2017, at the ministerial level, adopted clear decisions on Free Movement of People and Goods with understanding of its implications on peace and security.

PSC had acknowledged during the meeting, that besides facilitating regional and continental integration, the benefits of free movement of people, goods and services, far outweigh the real and potential security and economic challenges that may be perceived or generated.

It also commended all Member States including South Africa which have already signed and ratified all relevant AU instruments on free movement of people and goods, and encourages all Member States which have not yet done so, to also do the same.

In the same context, Council urges Member States to address all institutional and regulatory capacity gaps, in order to have a common policy on free movement of people and goods;

PSC also stressed the need for AU Member States to further enhance mutual trust, cooperation and collaboration in addressing security challenges that are related to free movement of people and goods, in order to prevent terrorist and criminal groups from taking advantages and exploiting such facilities.

The Council  also commends the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the East African Community (EAC) for the significant progress recorded to date in the promotion of free movement of people, goods and services and urges other RECs/RMs to emulate the ECOWAS example;

Also the PSC hailed member states that have already started to issue visas on arrival to fellow African citizens, namely: Benin, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Seychelles and urges other Member States to also put in place necessary measures to ensure the issuance of visas on arrival for African citizens while at the same time taking the necessary security precautions.

However, PSC appealed to Member States, within the spirit of promoting free movement of people and goods in the African continent, to refrain from imposing harsh penalties to fellow African citizens who would have over-stayed in their countries beyond the period stipulated in the visas and to facilitate their exit to destinations of their choice.

It was not clear if the South African authorities took their minds back to the position of the PSC which their delegates also subscribed to before and during the ongoing xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals and mainly Nigerians.


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