JOHANNESBURG, March 1 – Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Thursday he had rejected proposals by the home affairs department on how to tackle illegal immigration into the inner city because the department was attempting to shirk its legal responsibilities.
Mashaba, a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance party which wrested control of the city from the ruling African National Congress in 2016 municipal elections, gave the home affairs department until March 30 to provide a comprehensive plan to address the issue, failing which he would take the matter to court.
“It is time for a lasting solution which will protect the best interests of our citizens and law abiding foreign nationals in our city,” Mashaba said in a statement.
The city of Johannesburg is grappling with a housing crisis as people from all over the continent, including many undocumented foreign nationals, flock into the commercial hub to look for jobs, contributing to rising overpopulation and buildings in the inner district being “hijacked” from their legal owners.
Last year the city council agreed to establish a joint committee with the home affairs department to deal with the challenge.
But on Thursday Mashaba said the draft terms of reference for the committee which the department had put forward were not sufficient to address the crisis.
“The regulation of immigration matters falls outside the competency of the city of Johannesburg; this is the sole responsibility of the department of home affairs,” he said.
“Under the current proposed terms of reference, the department of home affairs has effectively sought to shirk its legal obligations.”
He said the proposals also provided no time frame for the committee to complete its work, meaning there was no means of holding it accountable for achieving outcomes demanded by residents.
The proposals also made no mention of a budget to be utilised by the committee, Mashaba said, adding that accepting them would “result in the creation of a forum which would effectively have its hands tied behind its back”.