Somalis hail SA deal
The local Somali community has hailed the South Africa government for establishing diplomatic ties with their country for the first time. On Tuesday South Africa’s International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, reached an agreement with the Somali Foreign Minister, Abdullahi Haji Hassan Mohamed, and said the two countries would soon exchange diplomats. “We hope our relationship will assist Somalia to achieve peace and democracy,” she said in a statement.
The local Somali community was quick to welcome the development. “I’m certain this new diplomatic relationship will help Somalia as a country to achieve peace and democracy,” Ismail Abdullah Chairperson of the Somali Community Board in South Africa (SCOB) said
Ismail said the new embassy will now enable Somali’s wishing to travel to South Africa to get direct visas which will make them enter the country legally. “I also believe business will increase between South Africa and Somalia now that there is a diplomatic relationship between the two countries, he added.
Another Somali Nasir Ali said he believes the proposed diplomatic missions in Pretoria and Mogadishu will help strengthen relations between local South African and Somalis living in the country as refugees. The International relations statement said South Africa was ready to share experiences of its own history in ending apartheid and building a new constitution.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the South African embassy in Nairobi, Kenya would temporarily act as a liaison office for Somalia until a permanent mission was opened in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
South Africa is home to a large Somali community, which mainly operates in the small scale business sector. During the famine which ravaged Somalia in 2011, the South African government donated R8-million to help starving victims.
Somalia has been without an effective government since the ouster of Dictator Mohammed Siyad Barre in 1991. Since then, the Horn of Africa country sank into deadly violence that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands. (Hassan Isilow)