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Ramaphosa wants to mend ties with other African countries following xenophobic attacks

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address in parliament on Thursday.
Cyril Ramaphosa President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address in parliament on Thursday.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa has addressed the booing he was subjected to when he spoke at the memorial service of the  late former Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe over the weekend.

He said that he apologised to Zimbabweans on behalf of South Africans for the violent xenophobic attacks that saw many of them flee the country.

“… their reaction was against us as the whole stadium, full of some 40,000 people, booed me and it was only when I said I regret what has happened in our country and I apologised,” said Ramaphosa.

“I offered an apology on behalf of all of us as South Africans and that is when they responded positively in accepting that apology.”

Ramaphosa was speaking the 14th national congress of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) in Durban.

He told  2,000 delegates that the recent xenophobic attacks have had a negative impact as the world has placed the country on a higher pedestal mainly because of the Constitution and the Freedom Charter which highlights that South Africa belongs to everyone who lives in it.

“So when they saw what happened happening, they were really shocked and taken aback and our image and our standing and our integrity have therefore been negatively affected.

“We will have to work very hard as South Africans to regain our stature, our position and in this regard, it was best to just stand up and say we are sorry for what happened. And in having said so, we now need to make sure that it does not happen again and this is what I told them as well,” said Ramaphosa.

In his capacity as the president of the Republic, Ramaphosa yesterday sent a Special Envoys to several African countries to mend ties following the spate of violent xenophobic attacks.

The countries that the team led by Jeff Radebe will visit includes Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. 

The presidency said that the Special Envoys had been tasked with reassuring African countries that South Africa was committed to the “ideals of Pan-African unity and solidarity as well as reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law”.

“The Special Envoys will brief governments in the identified African countries about the steps that the South African government is taking to bring a stop to the attacks and to hold the perpetrators to account,” the presidency said.