Four-year per­mits a wel­come move

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

THE an­nounce­ment of a new im­mi­gra­tion dis­pen­sa­tion for Ba­sotho is glad tid­ings for all and sundry re­gard­less of political per­sua­sion or sta­tion in life. As re­ported else­where in this edi­tion, the South African govern­ment yes­ter­day an­nounced a four-your spe­cial per­mit for Ba­sotho who want to stay and do busi­ness in the neigh­bour­ing coun­try.

It is heart­en­ing that the South African au­thor­i­ties have fi­nally seen the folly of cag­ing in Ba­sotho, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing our unique ge­o­graph­i­cal po­si­tion of be­ing com­pletely sur­rounded by our gi­ant neigh­bour. Hu­man mi­gra­tion has been preva­lent since the dawn of civil­i­sa­tion and re­stric­tions can only ebb the flow but not stop it com­pletely.

Over the years, we have heard dis­turb­ing re­ports of bod­ies of Ba­sotho fished out of Cale­don River and other wa­ter bod­ies try­ing to il­le­gally en­ter South Africa. This is be­cause of real or per­ceived op­por­tu­ni­ties. As long as acute poverty and de­pri­va­tion are the or­der of the day, mi­grants con­tinue to take such risks.

The so­lu­tion, as many have al­ways ar­gued, lay in less strin­gent con­di­tions which al­low peo­ple to go about their busi­ness with­out un­due ha­rass­ment. Of course, such a dis­pen­sa­tion needs to com­men­su­rate with ad­e­quate and ac­cu­rate cross-bor­der sys­tems to man­age the move­ment of peo­ple.

As trag­i­cally il­lus­trated in the re­cent ter­ror­ist at­tacks in France, lax im­mi­gra­tion con­trols can al­low un­de­sir­able el­e­ments to sneak in and wreak havoc. On the flip side, the easy move­ment of peo­ple, goods and ser­vices within the Euro­pean Union has helped make the bloc the eco­nomic be­he­moth it has be­come. Ul­ti­mately, the key lies in find­ing bal­ance be­tween the com­pet­ing aspects, and it was about time that the South Africans re­lented to com­mon sense.

For Ba­sotho stay­ing in South Africa il­le­gally, this de­vel­op­ment is an op­por­tu­nity to reg­u­larise their stay and abide by the tenets of the law. It should not be used as carte blanche to live, study or work in South Africa with­out proper doc­u­men­ta­tion. There is ab­so­lutely no rea­son to do that.

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