Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba wants to address Parliament on home affairs’ dysfunctional state, which he believes led to the standoff between the police and individuals alleged to be foreign shop owners and street vendors last week.
Mashaba has written to Parliament’s portfolio committee for home affairs asking for an opportunity to appear before the committee.
“On Monday, I wrote to the Bongani Bongo, chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee for home affairs, requesting an opportunity to appear before the portfolio committee, said Mashaba.
He added that “for almost three years, and five ministers of home affairs later”, he had “continuously attempted to engage the department and the ministers on the illegal immigration crisis facing Johannesburg.”
According to the mayor, “these efforts were made in total good faith and in the best interests of Johannesburg and its residents.”
Mashaba said regardless of the good interests, for the most part, his efforts “have been ignored outright.”
The mayor’s attempt to engage with Parliament’s portfolio committee for home affairs were reinvigorated by protests by traders in the inner city, which resulted in a standoff with police on last week.
Individuals alleged to be foreign shop owners and street vendors – whose goods were confiscated by police during a raid – pelted stones at police vehicles and injured some law enforcement officials during the scuffle.
As a result, Mashaba said: “The department [of home affairs] is completely dysfunctional and failing in its constitutional obligation to address the issue of undocumented immigrants.”
“It has therefore become necessary to take up this crisis with Parliament, in the hope that the department of home affairs will finally be held unaccountable,” said Mashaba.
The mayor questioned the City’s administration was expected to proactively plan and budget for the provision of basic services for all residents when they were not sure who resided in the city.
“The city’s health department is one such victim of this inability to plan and budget accurately. A report by the Health Department outlining its struggle to cope with the additional pressure brought about by undocumented immigrants, highlighted that between 15% to 39% of patients accessing city’s clinics were undocumented immigrants,” said Mashaba.
Under his oversight, the city faced numerous challenges, including a housing backlog of an estimated 300 000 units.
Mashaba said it was essential that the department of home affairs “cleaned up its act and ensured that there is, identification and processing of undocumented immigrants; and the appropriate circumstances, that legal documentation be expeditiously provided to those who qualify.”