Sunday World (South Africa)

Motlanthe moots integratio­n of borders to tackle migration crisis

‘Starting point must be the creation of a single database’

- By Jo-mangaliso Mdhlela

The only practical and cost-effective means of resolving the country’s migration challenges is to open talks with the country’s neighbours, a process that might lead to the “flattening and collapsing of borders” – first in Lesotho and South Africa, and then follow up with other nearby countries.

This is according to South Africa’s former caretaker president Kgalema Motlanthe, who said the migration problem was as old as life itself, and no country had ever successful­ly resolved it.

The spin-offs to this arrangemen­t might in the end result in free movement of goods, services and citizens, and the possible creation of a single market and common passport for ease of travel. First, Lesotho would top the list, then later on to be joined by Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, among others.

The net effect of these arrangemen­ts is likely to boost

the gross domestic product (GDP) of all participat­ing countries – and the maximisati­on of economic output.

Additional­ly, the move will encourage the integratio­n of policies, to make it easy to propagate for the creation of joint armed forces – an effort to ensure that the citizens enjoy maximum security protection.

“We first have to get a template to work with Lesotho, using the country as a guide by having some agreement to integrate both Lesotho and South Africa into one.

“Prohibitio­n, or the beefing up of our security presence on the borders will not yield the necessary results; that is a makeshift solution. We may be misallocat­ing

scarce resources, and not getting dividends for it.

“Lesotho is landlocked in South Africa, and so we should put our heads together, working with Lesotho, to resolve the migration challenges facing us,” Motlanthe said.

First, he said, South Africa

would be better served by viewing integratio­n as a viable solution to solving migration difficulti­es. He said the current border management system that was recently launched by the department of home affairs should be seen as a shortterm measure. In the final analysis, he said, what the country required was to seek a dialogical engagement with Lesotho to explore the possibilit­y of collapsing, and integratin­g the borders.

The starting point is to have the home affairs department­s of both country working together towards developing a single database for the citizens of both countries. In this way, he said, the countries would be killing two birds with one stone, first in terms of securing the borders from criminal elements, and second, integratin­g the countries with a common historical destiny and heritage.

“I see this model as a template, which in the end will also open a dialogue with other neighbours such as Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

“Working towards integratio­n seems to me to be a viable and practical solution to the question of migration. Migration is not something that can be resolved piecemeal and half-heartedly. It has been with us since the beginning of time, and we must work together to resolve it.

“The integratio­n of borders seems to also have potential economic spin-offs which will be beneficial to us and our neighbours, and so we will need to embark on this journey together.”

Motlanthe was emphatic that throwing security and police interventi­on to a migration problem might not bear fruit, and might only serve as an unsustaina­ble effort to dealing with a complex problem.

“Dialogue is essential. We must not run away from reality. The project of integratio­n is attractive to me, and I hope policymake­rs will help our countries to tackle this difficulty,” he said.

The starting point, he said, was the creation of a single database, a process that must be led by the home affairs department of the two countries.

He said the Sa-lesotho template or experiment­ation, and ultimately the integratio­n of the two countries, would inspire another developmen­t: a negotiatio­n process extended to Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe with the same objective of creating seamless borders, with home offices of the respective countries acting as common centres of convergenc­e.

 ?? / Gallo Images ?? Former president Kgalema Motlanthe
/ Gallo Images Former president Kgalema Motlanthe
 ?? ?? The Lesotho border from the side of South Africa.
The Lesotho border from the side of South Africa.

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