South Africa
South Africa

South Africa’s Parliament said on Wednesday that the challenges of illegal immigration in the country should be dealt with through “cool heads” instead of confrontation.

“The current immigration challenges facing South Africa and other countries can be successfully dealt with through cool heads,” said Bongani Bongo, chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs.

Business24

Bongo make the remarks after Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba rebuked Parliament’s invitation to attend a meeting of stakeholders, scheduled for October 22, to discuss the immigration issue.

Johannesburg is among several South African major cities that bear a heavy burden of illegal immigrants.

Last month, a new spate of xenophobic violence took place in Johannesburg and some other cities, claiming the lives of at least 12 people.

This prompted Parliament to call a meeting of these cities to discuss ways of strengthening the system of immigration in the country to avert the occurrence of xenophobic violence in future.

On September 29, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs sent an invitation to the City of Johannesburg Mayor’s Office, informing the mayor about the meeting.

“What is disturbing is that the committee was inundated with media enquiries about the invitation following the release of the media statement by the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg,” said Bongo.

This happens despite the fact that the mayor has not formally indicated to the committee his availability to this meeting, said Bongo.

“This calls into question the bona fides of the mayor in dealing with this challenge,” Bongo added.

The committee has on various occasions highlighted that the challenges facing the country in relation to immigration require serious commitment from all the sectors of the society “if we are to find workable solutions,” said Bongo.

The meeting is to be convened in the spirit of working together and finding workable solutions together to the migration challenge, and not for political point-scoring, Bongo emphasized.

While there are challenges within the immigration application process, there are also positive elements in the process that the mayor of Johannesburg seems to disregard, Bongo said.

These include the streamlining of the application process and introduction of the electronic processing system aimed at eliminating corruption within the immigration system.

The positive elements in the process need to be strengthened and the aim of the meeting is to do just that, Bongo said.

Furthermore, the finalization of the Border Management Agency Bill by Parliament is an attempt to strengthen the process, he said.

Despite these minor concerns, the committee is hopeful that the meeting will yield tangible results and the invited stakeholders will offer solutions to the current challenges, Bongo said.

South Africa hosts about 240,000 foreign nationals, including illegal immigrants and asylum seekers mostly from other African countries, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Enditem

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