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ActionSA will take ‘middle ground’ on immigration, says Mashaba
Herman Mashaba says extremists within ActionSA have lost their bid to get the party to take a hard line on immigration policy.
In his opening remarks at ActionSA’s first policy conference, party president Herman Mashaba said the party would take the middle ground when it came to its stance on immigration laws.
ActionSA’s three-day policy conference kicked off on Tuesday, 12 September, at Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg, and will close on Thursday.
“I want to assure South Africans that ActionSA will present a strong proposal that occupies the rational, middle ground on this important issue. ActionSA reaffirms our belief that South Africa was built on the back of migrants. We want the people of the world to come to South Africa, but they must do so legally and obey our laws once here. ActionSA will not place the blame at the door of foreigners,” he said.
Mashaba explained that there was a strong push by party “extremists” who wanted stricter immigration laws versus those who were completely opposed to this suggestion.
“On the one side, there are those who want to ignore our borders or call anyone xenophobic for raising the issue of the failed implementation of our immigration regulations and our porous borders. On the other side, there are those who are wilfully blind to the benefits that regulated immigration can offer our country, and act like quasi-law enforcement officials by unlawfully raiding businesses and detain[ing] people,” he said.
Mashaba has previously come under scrutiny for his stance on illegal foreigners, particularly in relation to the occupation of abandoned buildings in Johannesburg.
During his tenure as City of Johannesburg mayor, between 2016 and 2019, he was adamant that foreign nationals who were in Johannesburg without documentation were linked to criminal activity. He was dubbed as xenophobic for his utterances.
Read more in Daily Maverick: We started reclaiming hijacked buildings in Joburg, in part to prevent tragedies like the Marshalltown fire
On Tuesday, the ActionSA leader said the immigration crisis could not be blamed on illegal immigrants, but rather on the government.
“The blame for our immigration crisis belongs at the feet of our government who have failed to police our borders, who have failed to document people entering South Africa, and who have failed to deport those who have committed crimes. Our work is to fight failing ruling party immigration policies. Not immigrants themselves. This distinction matters.
“Equally, we must propose some hard diplomacy as it relates to countries who create political and economic disasters in their countries that then compound an immigration crisis in South Africa. South Africa must use its relative strength in the region and abroad to hold those governments to account for the spillover effect that manifests itself in our borders,” he said.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA learns the hard way it is all about structure
The party’s draft policy states that it is in favour of relaxing visa requirements to allow qualified migrants to enter the country. This includes expanding the list of countries whose citizens can visit South Africa without visas and implementing e-visas and visa-on-arrival programmes.
“[We want to] utilise international relations mechanisms to advocate for visa-free or reduced visa requirements with more countries,” the draft document reads.
Just more than 600 delegates from all nine provinces are participating in the party’s policy conference this week to discuss key party policies before voting on which stance to take.
The issues under discussion range from international relations and energy to corruption and economic affairs. DM