Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi’s mission to have a clear migration policy framework for the country could be realised as the ANC admits it has none since 1994 and is amenable to his proposed migration blue print.
Giving feedback on the national policy conference discussion on migration, ANC peace and security subcommittee chair David Mahlobo indicated the conference agreed to proposals from Motsoaledi that permits and visas system should be overhauled so there was clarity and proper legislation on migration.
Home Affairs would be capacitated to be able to carry out this function.
The conference suggested the establishment of refugee reception centres near the borders with neighbouring countries.
When implement, the new set up would see refugees being treated in terms of the United Nations conventions for the first time since 1994.
“That is a very strong recommendation,” Mahlobo said.
The ANC suggested that SA must withdraw from 1951 convention on refugees that it assented considering the experiences of other countries.
They believe the withdrawal would help SA deal with its refugee crisis without being bound by the agreement.
“South Africa must withdraw but will deposit a new instrument to be able to manage our own issues and pressure it faces,” Mahlobo said.
Without the ANC framework, Motsoaledi had made great progress towards addressing the migration crisis.
His initiatives included appointing internal investigative committee to review all fraudulent permits and visas issued since 2004.
The committee, chaired by former director-general Dr Cassius Lubisi, has former sleuths from the Special Investigating Unit, the Zondo Commission and the Auditor-General.
It also set up the Border Management Authority and recently launched the border guards to patrol the country’s porous borders.
The next would be to establish a multi-departmental migration management board, representing all departments impacted by migration with representatives from unions and civil society.
Motsoaledi has been praised in some quarters for his interventions, which are running ahead of the ANC’s policy formulation.
Motsoaledi and Mahlobo conceded the ANC never had an over-arching framework on migration, something that observers attributed to the migration crisis.
Motsoaledi said even the passed Citizenship Act of 1995, the Refugee Act of 1998, the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 and the newly enacted Border Management Act of 2020 were not based on any framework guidance.
Motsoaledi, who had presented his proposals to the ANC provincial structures in Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape and were discussed by all the party branches, had described chaos caused by lack of clear policy.
He said internal anti-corruption unit headed by a deputy director-general (DDG) he appointed discovered fraud involving illegal issuing of permits and visas by Home Affairs officials.
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Twelve of the 14 officials from the section had attempted to petition Motsoaledi for the DDG to stop investigating “our errors”.
“Very week we are arresting people who issue those permits. If they are conceding to issuing permits by error, it means many people were brought to this country erroneously and illegally. It means there is corruption happening,” Motsoaledi said.
He said the worst fraud was where people as young as 16 were issued with retirement permits.
The officials also fraudulently issued permanent residence permit for flamboyant pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his family and the Nigeria preacher Timothy Omotoso, who is on trial for rape and human trafficking.