CAPE TOWN/ABUJA. — The African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS) has condemned recent attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa. The organisation said xenophobia had caused irreparable damage to the country. AIMS founder Professor Neil Turok said he was deeply shocked and saddened by the recent violence.
“It is clear that there are deeper socio-economic catalysts that have brought South Africa to this point.
“A motivating factor for the foundation of AIMS was to address these issues by creating an environment in which Africa’s brightest students can become innovators who propel scientific, education and economic self-sufficiency.
“If we focus on the solutions, we can move not only South Africa but the continent forward towards sustainable prosperity and avoid conflict that leads to irreparable damage such as loss of life,” Turok said.
The condemnation follows similar sentiments by the Department of Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.
“Without the experience and expertise of these esteemed colleagues (from other African countries), who also fulfil the valuable role of mentors and guides to young South Africans, science and technology in our country would be very much the poorer.
“Let us also not forget that during their exile from South Africa, due to the denial of access to education opportunities by the apartheid regime, many South African scientists benefited from training and education in other African states,” Pandor said.
The ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa erupted in certain parts of Durban two weeks ago, and then spread to other parts of the country, including the Johannesburg CBD.
Seven people are reported to have been killed with more than 2 000 others displaced from their homes.
The violence has been attributed to various historical, social and economic factors — with key drivers being poverty, unemployment and poor access to education, leaving migrants and the poorest South Africans competing for scarce jobs to make a menial living.
AIMS, the first pan-African network of centres of excellence, which established its first centre in 2003 in Cape Town, provides innovative training and research opportunities in mathematical sciences to brilliant students from across Africa.
Since its inception, AIMS’ objective has been to enable Africa’s youths to shape the continent’s future through Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education.
The organisation, which has centres in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and Tanzania, offers Master’s coursework in mathematical sciences and is focused on scientific training, cutting-edge research and public engagement.
AIMS has produced 748 mathematical scientists from 42 African countries including 240 women.
Meanwhile, the All Africa Students Union (AASU) has called on the South African government to retain normalcy in that country amid a wave of violence against foreign nationals.
Nigerians have not been spared from the tensions.
Awaah Fred, AASU Secretary General, said the organisation condemned unreservedly these shameful xenophobic acts and calls for the culprits to be brought to justice.
“AASU calls on the South African government not to leave any stone unturned to bring up normalcy in the country,” said Fred.
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has been blamed for the latest round of xenophobic violence in South Africa after he was quoted as saying foreign nationals must return “home.”
Fred said it was meanwhile, misleading to link the difficulties that the majority of South Africans were facing to the African immigrants.
“The situation of the people of South Africa can be traced to the deep disparities created by the previous apartheid regime and the current management of the country.” — CAJ News.