The government has dismissed international media reports suggesting that President Peter Mutharika’s absence from the 28th World Economic Forum, which got underway in South Africa Wednesday, was due to the ongoing attacks on African immigrants in the Rainbow Nation.
Mutharika and some leaders are not attending the forum which would see the launch of Africa Risk Resilience Platform, a scheme to help governments prepare for, mitigate and prevent climate-and disease-related disasters with the support of the private sector. It has gathered more than 1,100 delegates from government, business and civil society in Cape Town.
Reacting to the international media reports, Information, Civic Education and Information Technology Minister, Mark Botomani, Wednesday said the government was consulting before coming up with a position on the attacks in South Africa.
“There was no programme for him to travel to South Africa for that particular engagement and our not being present at the forum has nothing to do with the xenophobic attacks but it is due to logistical challenges,” Botomani said.
Malawi acting High Commissioner to South Africa, Gloria Bamusi, on Tuesday said the situation was tense and advised truck drivers against travelling to the Rainbow Nation until their safety was guaranteed.
Several media outlets in South Africa reported Wednesday that Malawi, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo leaders had decided to shun the forum in the face of the looting and burning of small businesses owned by the immigrants.
The Daily Times could not verify independently the reports linking the other countries’ leaders unavailability to the violence.
Zambia has also cancelled a friendly football match with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in view of the attacks whereas Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly instructed his foreign affairs minister to summon South Africa’s high commissioner to Nigeria over the violence.
African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has since condemned the attacks, which have seen scores of people arrested in Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.