Violation of constitutional obligations
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.