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SALGA briefs Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on undocumented immigrants and local economy




Posted: 22 October 2019

PARLIAMENT – The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) briefed the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on Tuesday, 22 October 2019, proposing solutions to challenges surrounding undocumented immigrants in the country.
The meeting was called by the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs following the recent attacks and looting of shops owned by foreign nationals which led to the deaths of 12 people, destruction of property and the displacement and resettlement of foreign nationals, particularly in the Gauteng province.
The meeting received presentations from the President of SALGA Thembi Nkadimeng, outgoing Mayor of the City of Johannesburg Mr Herman Mashaba, the Mayor of Ekurhuleni Mr Mzwandile Masina, and the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

Nkadimeng told the Committee that the issues related to migration – both internal and foreign migration – provide local government with an opportunity to respond to its complexity while attending to the day to day requirements of service delivery. She said the challenges present an opportunity to reflect on the “kind of intergovernmental system South Africa needs to build to support local government to effectively respond to dynamics on a global and national scale, but have their impact locally”.

Nkadimeng said SALGA has been contributing to issues of migration via the Technical Task Team and an Interagency Clearing Forum in various ways.  On Local Economy, Nkadimeng said some of the contradictions experienced at local government level were unearthed during the research conducted by SALGA on the informal economy position paper.

The research revealed that while some residents were arguing that foreign nationals should close down their stalls and hand them over to South African residents, it was the same residents that rent out their garages or erect structures within their properties so that foreign nationals can operate and pay them.  Nkadimeng explained that it was these contradictions which local government had to regulate over them where the informal economy was benefiting both locals and foreign nationals.

“The matter is not cut and dried. Certain municipalities have responded by regulating that the person operating a business within a property, such as in the case of a ‘spaza shop’, must be the owner of that particular property. This favours locals where they own the property on the one hand but also limits potential South Africans from participating in the economy on the other. Also the property owner is limited to operating the business and cannot be free to allocate the capital elsewhere,” she explained.

In the informal street trading environment, she cited price competition in products and services. Nkadimeng said equitable and inclusive access to economic opportunities are required, preferably enforced by those operating in the sector itself and called for Local Government developed policies and by-laws that uphold the Constitution concerning the informal sector.

Members of Parliament expressed the need of all spheres of government to cooperate to deal with the impact of undocumented foreign nationals on service delivery and social cohesion.

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Adv Bongani Bongo called for SALGA to facilitate engagements with other spheres of government to ensure that the plight of poor and smaller municipalities was not overshadowed by events in the larger metros.

The committees requested the Department of Home Affairs to engage with municipalities through SALGA to strengthen their cooperation and report back on proposed solutions.

The committees welcomed the work done by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality to assist foreign nationals who wanted to go back to their home countries and the majority which opted to be reintegrated into their communities.

It also urged the Department of Home Affairs to continue with its law enforcement operations which saw it conduct 56 raids between July 2019 and September 2019.
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