South Africa: Mashaba Slams 'Dysfunctional' Home Affairs On Documentation of Migrants

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, left; new DA Federal Council Chairperson, Helen Zille, centre; and Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.

Outgoing Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba asked Parliament to help ensure that the "dysfunctional" Department of Home Affairs discharge its duties in terms of documenting foreign nationals.

He and his Ekurhuleni colleague and neighbour, Mzwandile Masina, addressed a joint meeting of the portfolio committees on home affairs and cooperative governance and traditional affairs.

Mashaba's presentation was titled "The dysfunctional state of the Department of Home Affairs".

"We're asking for your help because we feel we're really being failed by the Department of Home Affairs," Mashaba said, adding that home affairs must ensure that foreign nationals are documented.

Johannesburg has been built over the last 137 years on foreign nationals coming in, he added.

"But without the support of our national structure, we don't stand a chance," he said.

Mashaba said his attempts to engage with the department over the past three years since the DA took over the metro, have been futile.

Johannesburg MMC for health and social services, Mpho Phalatse, said they were experiencing "chronic underfunding because of people in our midst who are unaccounted for".

She said documenting migrants made their planning problematic because they have to provide medical services for everybody, even though they don't have funding for everybody.

"We really need home affairs to come on board," she said.

Johannesburg MMC for safety and security Michael Sun said 37 841 foreign nationals were arrested in the past three years.

"It's like the World Cup of crimes," he said.

"We welcome them but when you're in our city, you have to comply with the rules," said Sun.

Mashaba thanked the committee for providing a forum where he could raise the issue.

"I don't think it is proper in terms of intergovernmental relations to take home affairs to court," he said.

Masina said Mashaba's presentation was "unfortunate".

"To say there would be an abdication of responsibilities, it would be unfortunate," said Masina.

"I'm not trying to be a spokesperson for Home Affairs, I'm just stating the facts as I know them."

Masina said there must be better border control.

Toeing the ANC party line, he said: "South Africans are not xenophobic," adding that the economic situation was fuelling the violence.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi started his presentation by saying: "I tried my level best to try and understand what Mayor Mashaba wants."

He said he had always co-operated with mayors and was first approached by Mashaba in July when Motsoaledi was still new in the portfolio.

With Mashaba's eyes boring into the back of his head, Motsoaledi said former minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba met with him, and earlier this year another former minister of home affairs, Siyabonga Cwele, extended an olive branch and met with him, and they even released a joint statement.

Motsoaledi said he was not denying that migration was a "huge problem" in the country.

"We do have porous borders and they are very problematic."

He said there was a big spike in asylum applications in 2008, coinciding with the worldwide economic recession. The department didn't expect this and since, there have been "very serious backlogs".

"We must understand that immigration is a global issue," Motsoaledi said.

"Nobody is denied a service because they are undocumented."

On Monday, Mashaba announced his resignation from the DA and as mayor, effective November 27. He said he would resign if Helen Zille was elected chairperson the DA's federal council on Sunday. She was.

In the run-up to the ANC's elective conference in 2017, Masina said he would resign if Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to lead the ANC. This happened, but he is yet to announce the date of his resignation.

News24

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