MPs liken Herman Mashaba to 'cry baby' wailing about immigration

22 October 2019 - 18:42 By Andisiwe Makinana
Outgoing Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba has been highly critical of the home affairs department during his term of office.
Outgoing Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba has been highly critical of the home affairs department during his term of office.
Image: Sunday Times

MPs likened outgoing Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba to a cry baby and a spoiled rich kid - and some in his own party criticised his choice of words in characterising home affairs as "dysfunctional".

The exasperated mayor was in parliament to talk about illegal immigration on Tuesday.

He had written to the national legislature earlier this year asking for intervention as he accused the department of home affairs of failing in its duties.

Since coming to office in August 2016, Mashaba has complained about illegal and undocumented immigrants and how they were draining the resources of the city he leads.

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He complained that after three years and five ministers of home affairs, his attempts to get a meaningful engagement on how to address the illegal immigration crisis in Johannesburg had been ignored.

He also slammed the department of home affairs for failing to fulfil its constitutional obligation to address issues of undocumented immigrants and labelled it "dysfunctional".

Mashaba said this was making service delivery almost impossible for the city. With his mayoral committee members in tow, Mashaba spoke of the high costs incurred by the city for providing services to undocumented immigrants, whom they suspected to be in the country illegally.

"We feel we are regularly failed by the department of home affairs," he said. "We've made various attempts including engaging the SA Human Rights Commission and involving the African Diaspora Forum," he added.

He appealed to parliament to help ensure that foreign nationals coming to the country were documented, saying that without support from national government, specifically home affairs, there was no chance of succeeding because it wasn't the competency of the municipality to deal with documentation.

"We really require you as parliament to make sure that home affairs discharges its responsibility as it is enshrined in the constitution," he said.

Home affairs rebuffed Mashaba's allegations, saying the department was not sitting on its laurels.

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi rejected Mashaba's claims that his predecessors had ignored the mayor and not co-operated.

Motsoaledi revealed that former minister Malusi Gigaba met Mashaba four months after Mashaba came into office in 2016.

Another minister, Siyabonga Cwele, also met the mayor in January this year - on Cwele's own initiative.

He revealed that Mashaba first spoke to him at a funeral in July, bitterly complaining about unco-operative previous ministers and charged that Motsoaledi was doing the same as he had not responded to a letter.

Motsoaledi said at the time he was still familiarising himself with key issues in the department.

Motsoaledi felt Mashaba had jumped the gun by approaching parliament: "I feel like we didn't need this [parliamentary] meeting."

He said he was prepared to meet the mayor as he now had an idea of what governance medication was needed.

MPs were not so kind to the outgoing mayor.

The ANC's Pretty Xaba likened Mashaba to being a "cry baby" who cried all the time about immigration issues and complained about home affairs ministers.

Xaba suggested that all security cluster departments should be involved in trying to solve migration issues. ANC MP Desmond Moela said: "We can't be cry babies ... we need to work together as leaders of different spheres of government."

DA MP Joe McGluwa disagreed with Mashaba's characterisation of home affairs as dysfunctional saying, "I don't agree with this heading. I think it's not a useful expression and it doesn't in any way speak to a future of working together in solving the problems."

The meeting resolved that the SA Local Government Association get involved to find a solution.