Four-year permits a welcome move
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.