Vi­o­la­tion of con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - ZINGISA MKHUMA [email protected]

IS­SUES of mi­gra­tion af­fect ev­ery ma­jor econ­omy and its cit­i­zens. Be it South Africa, South Su­dan, Europe and Amer­ica, we all know that if not man­aged prop­erly, mi­gra­tion has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate dis­con­tent among host na­tions.

South Africa is host to mil­lions of im­mi­grants. A small per­cent­age of the im­mi­grants are pro­fes­sion­als, aca­demics and en­trepreneurs who are here to make money, cre­ate jobs or to ren­der ex­per­tise where it is re­quired. Sadly a huge per­cent­age of mi­grants in this coun­try are poor and il­le­gal and are of­ten ex­ploited in many sec­tors.

The fact that sta­tis­tics es­ti­mate that il­le­gal im­mi­grants num­ber more than a mil­lion, but gov­ern­ment de­part­ments which are meant to de­liver ser­vices to the peo­ple of South Africa are not clear on the ac­tual fig­ure, is cause for con­cern.

How does our gov­ern­ment plan to de­liver ser­vices to the poor lo­cals when they don’t bother to find a way of doc­u­ment­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants and iden­ti­fy­ing their needs?

Over­crowd­ing and poor ser­vice de­liv­ery in poorer com­mu­ni­ties have been fac­tors that have trig­gered out­breaks of vi­o­lence that the me­dia con­ve­niently called “xeno­pho­bia” be­cause of a lack of insight into what goes on in these over­pop­u­lated crime-rid­den slums where most of the poor im­mi­grants tend to find them­selves.

Pub­lic health ser­vices are burst­ing at the seams and there is al­ways a short­age of medicines at clin­ics be­cause au­thor­i­ties have failed to cater for the needs of thou­sands of il­le­gal im­mi­grants mak­ing use of the ser­vices. Of course they have a right to – where else are they ex­pected to go when they are sick?

Chil­dren of im­mi­grants, some of whom are used in street cor­ners to beg, are those suf­fer­ing the most.

Our con­sti­tu­tion is clear on the rights of chil­dren. They have a right to ed­u­ca­tion, health, safety and dig­nity. And yet we stand by and watch chil­dren be­ing abused and used as street beg­gars be­cause we have been cowed into si­lence by those who cry xeno­pho­bia each time there are com­plaints about im­mi­grants.

One would ex­pect that a gov­ern­ment that will­ingly opens its bor­ders, will have a so­lu­tion for the thou­sands of chil­dren of il­le­gal mi­grants. Ig­nor­ing the chil­dren and not giv­ing them birth cer­tifi­cates and wait­ing for them to be 18, so as to al­low them to get lost in the sys­tem, is a clear vi­o­la­tion of our con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions.

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