Afrophobia, Xenophobia

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South Africa’s government acknowledged on Thursday that prejudice was partly to blame for deadly rioting that has targeted foreign businesses, as those attacks and reprisals overshadowed a continental economic conference for a second day. President Cyril Ramaphosa had hoped the World Economic Forum conference in Cape Town would serve as a shop window for his efforts to revive South Africa’s ailing economy and boost intra-African trade. But the backdrop of violence has dominated proceedings, above all exposing dormant tensions between the host country and Nigeria, the continent’s two biggest economies. At least five Africans have been killed this week in attacks on foreigners in South Africa. On Wednesday local companies MTN, and Shoprite closed stores in Nigeria after retaliatory attacks, and threats of reprisals forced Pretoria to shut its embassy in Abuja, its foreign minister said. Nigeria’s vice president boycotted the meeting on Wednesday over the rioting. On Thursday Jim Ovia, chairman of Nigeria’s Zenith Bank and a co-chair of the whole event, also withdrew, citing the “hypersensitivity of the issues surrounding the lives and well-being of Nigerian citizens living in South Africa.” In Abuja, Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed said it was recalling its High Commissioner to South Africa. As his ministers sought to manage the fallout, Ramaphosa cancelled his appearance at the WEF plenary session to address a crowd of protesters demonstrating for a second day about violence against women. Speaking in his place, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said most South Africans disapproved of the attacks on foreigners…

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