South Africa: Issues Around Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa Are Politicised, Say Experts

Marquee at a refugee camp in Bellville, Cape Town (file photo).

Discussions around migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in SA have been politicised, according to panellists and experts speaking on human rights and migration during the virtual annual Human Rights Festival organised by Constitution Hill and The Polisee Space on Monday.

Mukoni Ratshitanga, an associate at The Polisee Space, said South Africa needs to deal with the "politicisation of migration" which makes it an issue around policy space and causes South Africans to develop negative perceptions about migrants and refugees.

"There are no foreigners taking anybody's job. The challenges you are dealing with are not because of foreigners," he said, adding that migrants are only looking for economic opportunities for themselves and their families back home.

SA politicians have been accused of making anti-immigrant comments, increasing hostility against foreigners in the country.

Ratshitanga, however, suggested a national and regional integration approach to migration.

"You can't do anything about migration, but you can just manage it in some ways," he said.

"We don't have a refugee or migrant problem but an economic challenge. Refugee problems are minor. And to solve this, you have to respond economically to the challenges of migration by providing more resources and opportunities."...

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