BMA coming up short

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Using specially recruited and trained Border Management Authority (BMA) border guards for “access control” is another example of many shortcomings in government’s border management planning and policy Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow home affairs minister Adrian Roos maintains.

“We discover the new border patrol is performing routine border control work at a border post. ‘Nobody will be allowed to waltz through our borders without being documented,’ says Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi proudly, ‘There are no exceptions, whether you go through a land port, seaport or an airport.’

“The major entry point for foreigners entering our borders illegally is surely underneath the washing line between the land ports and the open goal of our coastal border area,” was his riposte to a recent SAnews report quoting Motsoaledi.

Expanding, the Gauteng-based parliamentarian told defenceWeb: “In the early 2000s the SA Police Service (SAPS) took over border patrol functions. This not only failed dismally but by the time the SANDF (SA National Defence Force) was redeployed the number of companies was reduced from 35 to 15. Contrary to the bluster about fighting illegal immigration, under the directorship of the ANC government border patrol capacity has more than halved.

“Instead of wasting extraordinary amounts of budget on repurposing personnel we need to hold personnel accountable to do their work.

“The sight of border guards deployed to monitor ‘vulnerable areas’ ushering travellers into queues at Beitbridge must be a welcome site to human traffickers, stock thieves and Illegal fishermen, who are apparently off the hook.

“The DA would replenish border patrols to a manageable amount – at least 22 companies – and invest in surveillance technology as a force multiplier. This would assist with detection of irregular border activity and dispatch of border patrol forces, including maritime forces, as part of a holistic approach to border security.”

On South Africa’s maritime borders Roos again points the finger at government saying “less is said about Chinese trawlers plundering the oceans off our coastline than economic migrants coming from the north.”

“Chinese vessels switch off transponders at night, enter South African territorial waters, take what they want, exit and switch transponders on in the morning. The cost in terms of environmental impact, tax revenues and job losses must be severe while South African fishermen are subject to stricter and tighter fishing quotas,” he told defenceWeb.

“When border patrol resources are made available and allocated to a border post it beggars belief. Dr Motsoaledi has conceded the coast guard imagined under the Border Management Authority Act is not even in the planning phase, offering instead the solution of reforming immigration laws.

“Apparently by focusing on those seeking lawful entry the problem of porous borders will be solved,” is his comment on a coast guard not yet even in the planning phase.

Another component of government’s border management policy is the “one stop border post “OSBP”.

Asking about progress and implementation of OSBP at the busy and only port of entry to and from Zimbabwe, ANC (African National Congress) parliamentarian Thembisile Khanyile was told by Motsoaledi the OSBP component was adopted and approved by Cabinet in March this year.

OSBP implementation at Beitbridge to working status will only be possible once “applicable” legislation is in place, which will see s re-design and redevelopment of the port of entry. This has to be done in consultation with the Zimbabwe government.