SA Government says it is dealing with illegal migration

As the country deals with the challenge of illegal migration, President Cyril Ramaphosa has reminded South Africans that the country is a democracy founded on the rule of law.

President Ramaphosa said that acts of lawlessness, intimidation or humiliation directed at foreign nationals, documented or undocumented, cannot be tolerated.

He said this when he responded to oral questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

To this end, the President said that there are ongoing joint operations by the South African Police Service, South African Defence Force, Department of Employment and Labour and the Department of Transport to deal with illegal migration.

He said that the first cohort of the Border Management Agency border guards has been deployed in areas where illegal entry into the country has been reported.

“If migration is managed properly and occurs within the legal framework, foreign nationals can contribute positively to our society, bringing skills and resources to our economy and creating jobs for South Africans.

“We have recently undertaken a comprehensive review of the policy framework for work visas to ensure that migration is managed in a way that benefits our country and supports our national interests,” the President said.

The President called on everyone to work together to ensure that all laws are enforced by the relevant authorities firmly and consistently.

“We are not a xenophobic nation. There are global challenges of migration and our people respond to the challenges they face on a daily basis. We all have to ensure that whatever we do is within the confines of the law.

“As we integrate our continent in terms of trade, we recognise that there will be movement of people, this must be done within a legal framework. Our [Department of] Home Affairs is addressing challenges brought on by migration to ensure that we adhere to the rule of law,” he said.

SA engaging with other leaders on illegal migration

President Ramaphosa said that migration is an important developmental issue within the African Union and Southern African Development Community (SADC), and across the world.

As a consequence it features in bilateral engagements between South Africa and other African countries.

In view of the growing challenge of illegal migration, Member of Parliament M S Chabane had asked the President to provide details of his engagements with other leaders on the continent, especially in the SADC region.

In dealing with the issue, the President said that South Africa interacts on a regular basis with other countries.

He said that Kenya and South Africa signed a migration agreement that includes the return of third-country immigrants that passed illegally through one of the two countries en-route to the other country.

The agreement was signed during the State Visit of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“Among the agreements reached is to have a Consular Migration Forum between Nigeria and South Africa, where senior officials meet twice a year to look at visa issues, illegal migration and other issues concerning either country’s nationals.

“Similarly, an immigration cooperation agreement formed part of my discussions with President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo of Ghana in December 2021,” the President said.

The President highlighted that there has been Bi-National Commissions at Head of State level with Mozambique in March 2022 and Botswana in April 2022.

In both cases, cooperation on deportations and agreements on migration cooperation more broadly were concluded.

In the last few months, there have also been engagements at Ministerial and officials level with counterparts from Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe on migration issues.

During his chairship of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security over the past year, the President said they have prioritised the Draft Regional Migration Policy Framework and Action Plan 2022-2030.

The draft plan proposes principles and strategies on matters such as border governance, irregular migration, labour migration and others.

“Like any sovereign nation, we have the right to implement policies and measures that guarantee the integrity of our borders, protect the rights of South Africans and provide that all who reside in our borders have a legal right to be here,” he said.