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I have written to the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba, declining his Department’s proposed terms of reference for the formation of a joint committee, between the Department of Home Affairs and the City, in order to address immigration challenges in Johannesburg.

For well over a year, the City has, in good faith, sought the assistance of 3 separate Ministers of Home Affairs on this issue. I first engaged with Minister Gigaba on this issue in late 2016.

However, subsequent attempts to engage him were unsuccessful.

With Minister Gigaba’s return to the Home Affairs portfolio, I hope that the Minister will now give this matter his complete attention.

The Department of Home Affairs has acknowledged the serious challenges faced by the City with respect to immigration and that, ultimately, the regulation of this issue rests with national government.

Working towards protecting the best interest of all our residents and in order to live up to the Constitutional obligations of cooperative governance, I accepted the formation of a proposed joint committee between the Department and the City. I hoped this joint committee would be tasked with developing a plan to address immigration within the City of Johannesburg, particularly, illegal immigration and the processing of undocumented migrants.

Unfortunately, the draft terms of reference preferred by the Department were not sufficient to address our very real challenges:

1. The set objectives of the committee were open-ended and failed to address the issue at hand, being, the development of a plan to address illegal immigration in the City; 
2. The regulation of immigration matters falls outside the competency of the City of Johannesburg; this is the sole responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs.  Under the current proposed terms of reference, the Department of Home Affairs has effectively sought to shirk its legal obligations;
3. No time frame is provided for the committee to complete its work. The result is that there is no means of holding the committee accountable for achieving outcomes demanded by residents;
4. Neither the City nor the Department of Home Affairs has any recourse should either party fail to carry out its duties in terms of the proposed joint committee, were it to be established; and
5. Undoubtedly, there is a need for setting aside a budget which will be utilised for the purposes of the committee. This is not addressed in the Department’s proposals.

Accepting the Department’s terms of reference would result in the creation of a forum which would effectively have its hands tied behind its back. This is the kind of talk shop I warned against when the joint committee was first proposed. Many people from across the continent and world seek a better life in South Africa, and the City of Johannesburg in particular.

Those who are undocumented immigrants, are then forced to live on the fringes of our society with limited protection afforded to them.

From the City’s perspective, illegal immigration compounds serious challenges for the provision of temporary emergency accommodation for residents and other basic services. It is therefore crucial that a comprehensive plan be developed which will finally start addressing these pressing concerns.

I wish to emphasize that coming to this decision has not been an easy process. Indeed, much time has gone towards addressing this issue with the Deaprtment. However, establishing the proposed committee, under the present terms, would not be in the best interests of all the people who call Johannesburg home.

I have therefor requested that the Department provide me with a comprehensive and specific plan to address the issue of illegal immigrants within the City, as well as plans to process migrants within the City by the end of business on the 30th of March 2018, failing which we will approach the Courts for an order to mandate the Department of Home Affairs to do so.

It is time for a lasting solution which will protect the best interests of our citizens and law abiding foreign nationals in our City.

Cllr Herman Mashaba
Executive Mayor
City of Joburg

Media Enquiries:

Luyanda Mfeka
Director: Mayoral Communications
Office of the Executive Mayor
Cell: 076 171 5978