Pretoria – The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) — tasked with dealing with attacks on foreign nationals — has found that competition for economic opportunities is a leading cause of tensions that have spilt over into violence in some communities between locals and immigrants.
The IMC on Migration briefed Cabinet at its last meeting of the year on progress made in responding to the attacks on foreign nationals and addressing the root causes.
Speaking to media on Friday, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe said government was committed to dealing with the real causes of the attacks in order to stem them.
“Work on the root cause of the attacks determined that there was an increased competition for economic opportunities, resources and public services between foreign nationals and poor unemployed South Africans residing in townships and informal settlements,” Minister Radebe said.
Guided by the IMC on Migration, government implemented Operation Fiela, which brought the violence under control in 2015 when it broke in some parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
From 1 July to 30 September 2015, 702 operations were conducted, which led to 9 741 arrests. Of these arrests, 3 158 were of foreign nationals.
In terms of future plans to deal with migration, Minister Radebe said the final approval of the White Paper on International Migration is planned for March 2017. It will include the “First Safe Country” principle that will assist in managing refugees and asylum seekers.
Cabinet also approved the Refugee Amendment Bill in September 2015 for tabling in Parliament and Home Affairs submitted a document to the Southern African Development Community inviting discussion on how to deal with migration in the region.
Land was also acquired in Lebombo, Mpumalanga, in 2015 to set up asylum-processing centres closer to the border.
National Sanitation Policy approved
Meanwhile, Cabinet has approved the National Sanitation Policy 2016 for implementation.
The approval follows an extensive period of consultation for inputs.
Before the introduction of the policy, South Africa had no single, substantive policy regulating sanitation provision, leaving implementation haphazard and without basic standards.
“The policy places the well-being of people at the centre of development and is forward looking in terms of improved levels of services, innovation and appropriate technology to ensure sustainability to improve the lives of the poor,” Minister Radebe said.
Acid Mine Drainage
Cabinet was also briefed on the status of the Acid Mine Drainage “Emergency Works” project that was implemented as a short-term solution for Acid Mine Drainage mitigation in the Witwatersrand goldfields.
A long-term solution will be implemented in line with recommendations set down by the IMC dealing with this issue.
Being a water scarce country, Minister Radebe said the Acid Mine Drainage project capitalises on water conservation and reuse, ensuring the provision of adequately treated drinking water and a move away from the sole reliance on clean water in industrial applications.
Further, the project also mitigates pollution and other negative impacts.
Crime stats report
Cabinet also approved the release of the National Crime Statistics report for the first two quarters of 2016/17 by the Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko.
The quarterly releases enable government to monitor key targets, in particular the reduction of reported serious crimes. The quarterly release could be used as an early warning system to strengthen crime prevention operations and strategies.
Minister Nhleko is set to release these crime statistics before 31 January 2017.