Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba says Home Affairs is failing South Africa when it comes to dealing with foreign nationals.
The mayor was doubling down on his previous claim that 80% of people found during city raids were foreign nationals, for which he received significant backlash against his perceived xenophobia.
AfricaCheck weighed in on the matter during the robust interview, and said the mayor’s 80% figure may have been overrated.
The mayor said the numbers were a challenge regardless. “Whether it’s 1% or 80%, it was already too much.”
Criminal syndicates hide behind “undocumented” foreign nationals living in the city, said the mayor.
He said Home Affairs was in contempt of the law. “They are supposed to make sure everyone is documented.”
The heated debate continued, with host Eusebius McKaiser stating Mashaba could not have a plan if the numbers were not hygienic, moments before accusing him of conducting himself as US President Donald Trump in his views.
Mashaba after the show penned a lengthy explanation to McKaiser to ensure his comments were not taken out of context.
I thank you for the interview today on illegal immigration. I got into politics, in large part, to enforce the idea that elected representatives must be accountable.
This accountability must be for our actions and inactions, our words and our ideas. This is why it is called Public Office.
In the debate, perhaps a couple of points were missed that need to be set straight.
- My remarks about 80% undocumented foreigners in 2017 related not to the Inner City as a whole, but to the hijacked buildings that were being raided on a daily basis.
- This figure was not an academic study or a census and was never claimed to be either of these things.
- The fact is that this figure arose as an estimate from the practical exercise of conducting raids in these hijacked buildings. As such, I make space for the fact that this figure is open to different assessments.
- Part of the crisis relating to undocumented immigrants precisely relates to the inability to quantify the scale of the situation. Other challenges arise from the City conducting its work in an environment where this situation is unmeasurable.
- Whatever ones take on the percentage of undocumented foreigners in these hijacked buildings, no rational person can say it is not a serious crisis.
- Establishing the rule of law in our City is an absolute requirement for the multi-party government. Lawlessness has to be dealt with to ensure we live in a society that is stable, safe and conducive to prosperity.
- The laws of our Country, as it pertains to immigration, are clear and have been set out long before I came into office. They make a distinction between someone who qualifies as an asylum seeker and someone who resides in our Country illegally.
- No self-respecting Country in the world can claim this title unless they have borders and processes to be adhered to when entering them.
- My repeated position on the matter is that I want the people of Africa and the World to come to Johannesburg. I want them to visit our City, work in our City and grow our City. However there must be 2 non-negotiable requirements, people must 1) enter our Country legally and 2) when here, obey our laws.
- The truth is that Home Affairs is failing South Africa in very real ways. Our borders are porous and Home Affairs doesn’t do nearly enough to document people already in our Country. Can you believe that Home Affairs does not even have an Asylum Facility in Johannesburg?
I believe it is regrettable that such an important topic can be discussed and the entire focus becomes about unpicking a figure that was never projected as being beyond scrutiny.
The real debate which I suspect South Africans would like to have heard should have been about the magnitude of the crisis, how Home Affairs is failing dismally and how this impacts governments and people.
Liberalism, of which I am an avid believer, is often mistakenly taken to mean that we embrace anything, good or bad. This is patently wrong. Liberalism is about the rights of our Country being enshrined and protected at the level of the individual. This includes the rule of law and living in a Country where governments have responsibilities to protect these rights. One such responsibility involves proper control of who is in our Country.
When you are ready to have the debate most South Africans believe necessary, I would be delighted to back in your studio.
I would like to assure you, I appreciate robust debate because it is the only way we can grapple with the challenges we face in our Country.
Cllr Herman Mashaba
City of Johannesburg