Xenophobia: Please Leave Our Nigerian Properties Alone –NSACC Reacts

The Nigeria South Africa Chamber of Commerce (NSACC) has reacted to recent xenophobic attacks targeted at Nigerians doing business in South Africa, flaying the South African government for failing to do something to protect victims.

The reaction of the Chamber was contained in a press release obtained by Footprint To Africa today and was signed by the Chairman of NSACC, Mr Foluso Phillips.

He noted that the entrepreneurs being targeted and challenged in their communities did not take the jobs of locals, rather they provided jobs.

“It is argued that the people involved in the xenophobic attacks are suffering from economic frustration – not too dissimilar in some cases with the kind of frustration some parts of our society here in Nigeria face today. In fact, as we travel across the whole of the African continent, the story is very much the same. Unfortunately, there is nothing uniquely special about this frustrated cadre of the South African society. However, the true source and unique aspect of this economic and social frustration can be found in the social structure of South Africa, which still carries the vestiges of apartheid simply because the economic power has been retained with the whites and the political power ‘given’ to the Blacks and …well you can see what they have done with that,” Phillips said.

Below is the full reaction from the Nigeria South Africa Chamber of Commerce:

The xenophobia that is currently raging across South Africa, with the destruction of properties and loss of lives is totally unacceptable and clearly the South African Government must take responsibility for the protection of lives and properties of any individual resident within its sovereign boundaries. This it has failed to do and clearly does not see it as a priority. It doesn’t help that Nigeria is always the only country that responds so it is characterized as an SA-Nigeria problem rather than a wider issue around foreigners, including Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshi, and Chinese etc. The Nigerian media sees this as if only Nigerians are being targeted, which is far from being the case.
It is argued that the people involved in the xenophobic attacks are suffering from economic frustration – not too dissimilar in some cases with the kind of frustration some parts of our society here in Nigeria face today. In fact, as we travel across the whole of the African continent, the story is very much the same. Unfortunately, there is nothing uniquely special about this frustrated cadre of the South African society. However, the true source and unique aspect of this economic and social frustration can be found in the social structure of South Africa, which still carries the vestiges of apartheid simply because the economic power has been retained with the whites and the political power ‘given’ to the Blacks and …well you can see what they have done with that.
Caught in the middle are a group of seemingly helpless South Africans who have no one to conveniently blame for their woes than the foreigners, who, by virtue of their DNA will always succeed. As a matter of fact, it is only these enterprising and entrepreneurial people who have the nerve to venture out of their country in search of a different and hopefully better life – an aspect, which we are told made America great in the first place. It is therefore not surprising that the ‘foreigners’ in the midst of these disenfranchised South Africans, will always succeed or certainly be seen to succeed. Bingo! So they become the first target to vent that economic frustration.
But little do these South African ‘brothers’ appreciate that they are killing their local neighbourhood economy, especially that the probability of having the same skill to replace the service they have now destroyed is very low, thus nullifying the idea that their jobs have been taken. The entrepreneurs they now challenge in their communities did not take their jobs, they provided jobs. I am not aware that an army of non South Africans work in SA’s civil service structure, or in their factories and certainly very little in their service industries. For the more sophisticated jobs taken by foreigners, they have been a welcome relief to the employers as they search desperately for the quantity and or quality of skills they require.
The National Union of Nigerian Students and a host of Niger Delta ‘vigilante’ groups are gathering and threatening to carry out counter reprisal attacks against ‘South African’ companies in Nigeria as an act of retaliation. This does not make sense and relegates us to the same level of naivety and indeed stupidity as the black South Africans causing havoc in their country. The difference is that these companies in Nigeria are Nigerian companies. They employ Nigerians, are managed by Nigerians and serve very many Nigerians, especially the likes of MTN, DSTV, Standard Bank, SA Breweries, Sasol and another hundred other companies. They are not small establishments and indeed make their own significant contributions to our GDP. To shut them down is to shoot ourselves in the foot and to be quite honest, the South African Government would not care that much. Their people are not being hurt and the destruction of the business in Nigeria does nothing to them in South Africa but a lot to us here.
To attack South Africans personally and cause them harm in Nigeria is an act that will not happen simply because, as Nigerians, we do not do such things and I am confident that the full weight of the law and its agencies will come down heavily on the perpetrators of such acts. That is the superiority and maturity we have shown as a nation and which earned us the right and the ability to fight for South Africans in the first place, so we certainly will not relegate ourselves to such a level of ignorance.
MTN is a Nigerian company employing thousands of Nigerians directly and indirectly, whose livelihood would be challenged by such destructive act. This applies to so many other ‘South African’ companies operating in Nigeria as well. If the students and the Niger Delta militants are hell bent on retaliation, then they should jump on a plane and go show them pepper in Pretoria – but we all know this will never happen because it is just not in our DNA.
My honest appeal to our energetic youths in the universities is to show their superiority by not relegating themselves to the level of the poorly educated, near illiterate, jobless xenophobic South Africans operating at the lowest level of the South African Society; and for our Niger Delta Boys, who have seen in their own region that peace must reign supreme, otherwise nobody goes anywhere nor achieves anything that is of sustainable value. We must not hurt ourselves.
Our government will deal with this appropriately. We have the track record of dealing with national misbehaviour at a more global and diplomatic level. Remember, we do have a tough President.
In the mean time, please leave our Nigerian properties alone. They are only wearing South African labels.
Foluso Phillips

Chairman, Nigeria South Africa Chamber of Commerce

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