Maimane takes hard line on illegal immigration

According to The Daily Maverick, the DA’s manifesto takes a hard line against illegal immigration.

“No country in the world can afford uncontrolled immigration, and particularly not a country where resources are as scarce as ours,” The Mail and Guardian quoted DA leader Mmusi Maimane as saying during his speech.

“Our message speaks to the urgent need to secure our country’s borders, welcoming those who want to come here legally, but shutting out those who try to do so illegally,” Maimane said.

In 2017, Maimane said that immigrants shouldn’t be treated as scapegoats for South Africa’s problems.


My Take

In 2017 Maimane was talking about not scapegoating immigrants, now he’s saying our resources are scarce and we can’t handle having so many of them.

This is deeply cynical to me, because he clearly doesn’t think that immigrants are our problem – he said as much in the past – but he’s still willing to go after them if it wins him votes.

That isn’t the part of his statement that got me though, the part was the bit about us having scarce resources.

Part of what I think we get wrong in South Africa is thinking of jobs as a resource. They’re not.

A job is a task that needs to be done, it is something you spend resources on – not a resource in and of itself.

Labour is a resource, so when foreigners come into our country their labour, their skills, their ideas actually constitute a net gain in resources. If it was a problem of resources immigrants, legal or not, wouldn’t be much of an issue.

Our problem isn’t a shortage of resources. A big chunk of our problem is cycles of poverty making it hard to unlock those resources.

For example, here’s what FICA requires according to PSG:

  • Copy of ID document (SA Citizens) / Passport (Foreign Nationals)

  • Proof of address less than three months old (for example utility bill, store account statement, bank statement with address, DSTV account, municipal letter)

    • Should you not have proof of address in your name, you may provide a declaration by a third party confirming that you share an address with them and provide the third party’s proof of ID and proof of address (less than three months old). Download and complete the Joint Address Declaration.
  • Copy of SARS document confirming income tax number

  • Copy of bank statement confirming individual banking details (less than three months old)

So, what happens when you live in an informal settlements, with no fixed address? You have a hard time opening a bank account.

Because of our high crime rate nobody wants to have cash at the end of the month so you have a hard time getting a job. Because you have a hard time getting a job,  you have a hard time getting the money together to get that fixed address you need for that bank account.

Of course this causes higher crime because of the stress this places on South Africans. Simply having a place to sleep isn’t good enough, because our banking system requires proof of residence.

It isn’t a matter of a lack of resources – the money to hire people exists – it is unlocking those resources that’s the problem. It is breaking these cycles.

Another one of these cycles is the ‘poor country’ problem.

If we continue to act like our country is poor, we’re just going to get poorer. If you’re broke, do you expect to have your streets tarred and the potholes fixed? If you’re broke do you expect to go to a good hospital? If you’re broke do you expect to have great security? If you’re broke do you expect your lights to stay on?

These are all things that are required if our economy is to grow. It is difficult to build up manufacturing, if you can’t guarantee your power supply, the roads are part of our supply chain, without good healthcare labour isn’t as productive and without security, well you have that banking problem.

What we are willing to accept on the grounds that we are poor is another cycle of poverty that holds our economy back.

Our politicians want us to believe that we as a nation are poor so that we accept their poor performance.

The money to run Eskom properly was there – but instead of going to reliable suppliers it went to the Guptas. The money to transform our economy is there – but it has been siphoned off in a million different ways.

Can we say we don’t have the money to sort out our policing when our current minister of police was previously fired as police commissioner due to his role in dodgy tenders?

We have money for BMW and Mercedes, but not for housing and utilities? We’re not poor, we’re just getting robbed.

If we are fooled into believing that we do not have the resources we do not demand that they be used to our benefit, and we do not notice the same when our resources are plundered. You do not feel the loss of what you didn’t know you had.

To break these cycles of poverty requires us to recognise we have the resources to do it, so when politicians start talking about how scarce our resources are? I’m not terribly impressed.


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