Hu­man mi­grants should not have to cross our bor­ders the way wilde­beests

CityPress - - Voices And Careers - Mavuso Msimang voices@city­

How do we al­low peo­ple to im­mi­grate freely with­out ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the prejudice of those who guard bor­ders? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word IM­MI­GRA­TION and tell us what you think. In­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

Former pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki en­vi­sioned an African re­nais­sance, in sup­port of which he, inter alia, pi­o­neered the cre­ation of the New Part­ner­ship for Africa’s De­vel­op­ment, sup­ported peace­keep­ing in the Great Lakes re­gion and helped pre­serve the Manuscripts of Tim­buktu.

Un­for­tu­nately, the third post-1994 ad­min­is­tra­tion has ush­ered in an era of “smal­l­anyana skele­tons”.

Thanks to South Africa’s con­tri­bu­tion to the evo­lu­tion of the English lan­guage we now have in our vo­cab­u­lary “smal­l­anyana”, coined by “clever blacks”, an en­dear­ing term Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma re­serves for young, up­wardly mo­bile black peo­ple who don’t al­ways agree with his po­lit­i­cal man­age­ment agenda. Smal­l­anyana is smaller than small.

Min­is­ter of so­cial de­vel­op­ment and ANC Women’s League pres­i­dent – heaven knows, they are in a league of their own! – hitched smal­l­anyana a notch higher when she told a stunned na­tion that each per­son serv­ing on the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee had a “smal­l­anyana skele­ton in the cup­board”. The jury, if not the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, is still out on whether the min­is­ter’s han­dling of the crooked SA So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency grant pay­ments ten­der falls within the cat­e­gory of smal­l­anyana skele­tons.

Smal­l­anyana could also re­fer to the ap­point­ment of Ma­jor Gen­eral Mthandazo Ntle­meza as head of the Hawks, now set aside by the full Bench of the Pre­to­ria High Court, which pro­nounced him as “lack­ing the req­ui­site honesty, in­tegrity and con­scious­ness to oc­cupy the na­tional po­si­tion as head of the Hawks”.

Let me con­clude my di­rec­tion­less te­dium by in­vok­ing the anal­ogy of hu­man mi­gra­tion to that of African plains game. Even as they have a propen­sity to mi­grate, hu­man be­ings lack the syn­chro­nised splen­dor and spec­ta­cle of the giant herds of wilde­beests, ze­bras and gazelles that an­nu­ally mi­grate through the Serengeti and Ma­sai Mara ecosys­tems in east Africa in search of green pas­ture. But our mi­gra­tions, too, are as in­evitable and pre­dictable.

To at­tain their des­ti­na­tion in the Mara, the wilde­beests have to cross the Grumeti River, or “mi­gra­tion river”. But al­ways ly­ing in wait at this cross­ing point, is a float of croc­o­diles ready to con­vert the nim­ble-footed mi­grants into a sump­tu­ous din­ner. Don’t mis­un­der­stand me, please. I’m not talk­ing about im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers at bor­der con­trol posts or at home af­fairs of­fices.

That task of as­sist­ing hu­man mi­grants wade across their Grumeti is be­ing coura­geously taken up by Eisen­berg & As­so­ciates, who have over the past 20 years tact­fully shep­herded in­ter­na­tional trav­ellers and helped them find their way through the plethora of rules (not croc­o­diles), reg­u­la­tions and laws that gov­ern mi­gra­tion in South Africa and in other coun­tries. Msimang is former di­rec­tor-gen­eral of home af­fairs. This is an ex­tract of a speech he de­liv­ered at the 20th an­niver­sary

of Eisen­berg & As­so­ciates

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