Direct your anger towards parliament and Union Buildings: Steenhuisen
'The problems in SA are not caused by foreign nationals, they are caused by a government that cannot even get the most basics of governing right'
Leader of the official opposition John Steenhuisen has condemned the simmering anger that has culminated in several protests directed at foreign nationals, saying protesters' ire should instead be directed towards the Union Buildings and parliament.
These, he says, are the institutions where the government and ministers — who have “fundamentally” failed to govern — sit.
“The problems in SA are not caused by foreign nationals, they are caused by a government that cannot even get the most basics of governing right,” he said.
“Home affairs is one of the worst culprits. The anger should be here at home affairs. It should be outside the Union Buildings, parliament, because it's government and government ministers that are failing so fundamentally.”
Steenhuisen made the remarks on Wednesday while conducting an oversight visit to the regional home affairs building in Johannesburg. During the visit he interacted with members of the community, who complained about being treated like “animals” and shared their plight in trying to access the home affairs system.
Elderly women, pregnant women and students were among those who were turned back several times due to systems being offline, hours after braving long queues.
“It is our fundamental view that unless you fix the home affairs department, xenophobia and xenophobic violence will always continue to be a problem in SA,” he said.
“I want to speak out today, particularly against those political leaders who are fanning flames of xenophobia and scapegoating foreign nationals for the problems in SA.”
Gauteng DA leader Solly Msimanga echoed similar sentiments, saying some foreign nationals were willing to get documented only to be failed by the system.
Operation Dudula and things like that are going to have devastating and dangerous consequences for SADA leader John Steenhuisen
“We talk about people who are in the country illegally, but people who want to get documents to be in the country legally are facing this uphill battle because they cannot be assisted with getting the right documentation,” he said.
Msimanga said home affairs would contribute to the downfall of the country. “We cannot talk about growing the economy or changing the fortunes of the country if you cannot even give people the basic things like an ID or birth certificate. This department is going to be a contributor towards the downfall of SA and xenophobic attacks.”
Among other measures, DA shadow minister of home affairs Angel Khanyile said the party would put more pressure on home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi to ensure systems were upgraded and strong oversight was conducted.
“Second, we are aware that there is a budget of about R216m that was allocated to this department by National Treasury so that they can hire more staff, as capacitation is a problem in most offices. We are going to make sure that takes place,” she said.
Steenhuisen also cautioned that “Operation Dudula and things like that are going to have devastating and dangerous consequences for SA”.
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