Nigerian ruling party now wants to nationalise SA firms, with a big eye on MTN

A vendor sells MTN airtime at an MTN office in Kubwa, Abuja, Nigeria, 04 November 2015. MTN Nigeria has been fined 5.2 billion dollars by Nigerian regulators for failing to cut off users with unregistered sim cards. The fine has triggered stock losses at MTN Group.  EPA/TONY NWOSU

A vendor sells MTN airtime at an MTN office in Kubwa, Abuja, Nigeria, 04 November 2015. MTN Nigeria has been fined 5.2 billion dollars by Nigerian regulators for failing to cut off users with unregistered sim cards. The fine has triggered stock losses at MTN Group. EPA/TONY NWOSU

The looting and attacks on foreign nationals may be used as a pretext to take over the shares of SA citizens.

Bloomberg has reported that rough times may be ahead for South African companies in Africa’s most populous and richest economy, Nigeria, in an ostensible act of retaliation for xenophobic attacks in, primarily, Gauteng.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) party chairman Adams Oshiomhole declared in a video clip that was broadcast on Friday by the Lagos-based Channels Television that it would be worthwhile for the Nigerian government to take steps to take over the remaining shares of MTN owned by South Africans.

Telecoms company MTN has invested massively in the West African country, but has been targeted by regulatory hurdles and massive fines, which it has at times described as very unfair.

The APC’s chairman called for the nationalisation of all South African companies and a boycott of SA products. He even recommended that SAA no longer be allowed to fly into Nigeria.

MTN said on Wednesday it was temporarily shutting its retail stores in Nigeria following a wave of reprisal attacks on South African businesses across Nigerian cities.

“All MTN stores and service centres will therefore be closed as a precaution until further notice,” said MTN Nigeria’s secretary, Uto Ukpanah.

The announcement came on the heels of attacks on employees in Lagos, Ibadan and Uyo sparked by the violence against foreigners in South Africa.

More than a hundred demonstrators also clashed with police near a South African-owned Shoprite supermarket in the Nigerian capital on Wednesday as resentment simmered over attacks on foreign-owned shops in South Africa, AFP reported.

Demonstrators burnt tyres and hurled rocks outside a mall in Abuja where a branch of Shoprite is located, before being repelled by a dozen police, an AFP journalist saw.

“We must avenge the death of our citizens in South Africa,” said one of the demonstrators.

Stores operated by Shoprite, the telecoms giant MTN and other South African firms suffered looting and vandalism in several Nigerian cities, they said.

South Africa has huge investments in Nigeria, with Shoprite, MTN, digital pay-television MultiChoice and other companies jostling for a share of the continent’s biggest market.

Foreigners in South Africa have been accused of taking jobs away from South Africans – nearly one South African worker in three is unemployed.

The country is a major destination for economic migrants from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. But others come from much farther away, including South Asia and Nigeria.

The information commissioner for Lagos state, Gbenga Omotosho, said the Shoprite complexes at Jakande and Sangotedo Area in Ajah had been attacked on Tuesday “by some unidentified people claiming to be acting in retaliation against the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.”

“These attacks are condemned, as they are against the Nigerian spirit of accommodation and benevolence,” he said in a statement.

Information Minister Lai Mohammed also warned in a statement that “targeting South African companies in Nigeria for attack was akin to cutting off one’s nose to spite the face”.

“The investors in such companies, especially MTN and Shoprite, are Nigerians,” he pointed out.

Nigeria on Tuesday summoned the South African ambassador for talks and said President Muhammadu Buhari was sending an envoy to convey his displeasure to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Nigerian celebrities took to social media in outrage, with music star Burna Boy leading calls for a boycott of South Africa while fellow stars Teni the Entertainer and Davido condemned the violence.

(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)

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