Pretoria – Government has prioritised border control and security to deter illegal immigration, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“We proceed from the principle, as does every other sovereign state that all who live in South Africa must be legally permitted to do so. Police and immigration officials who take bribes in return for making cases go away, for releasing impounded goods or for issuing fraudulent documents must be dealt with firmly,” the President said.
He was speaking on Wednesday at a Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.
The President called for a Joint Sitting to focus the attention of elected public representatives and the nation at large on the crisis of gender-based violence and femicide.
“We know that our people are concerned about illegal immigration, and about some foreign nationals being involved in crime. We understand the concerns of local businesses struggling to compete against counterfeit goods being sold at prices they cannot match.
“We share your frustration that some South African employers are employing foreigners over locals to undercut wages, turning worker against worker,” President Ramaphosa said.
The President said all who operate businesses in this country must be registered and meet the requirements of the law.
“We should consider, as many other countries have, the regulation of how foreign nationals can own and participate in certain types of businesses within the small and medium enterprise sector,” the President said.
He said the recent public violence directed against both foreign nationals and South Africans exposed not only the levels of intolerance in society but also the extent of the frustrations of many about their social and economic conditions.
The President said there is no place for xenophobia and criminality, whether it is committed by foreigners or locals in the country.
“We are going to work with local and international humanitarian organisations as well as the various diaspora forums on an initiative to tackle xenophobia and intolerance. Such a campaign must be aimed at eradicating stereotypes, encouraging cross-cultural understanding and promoting social cohesion,” he said.
The President said South Africa was built on the labour of not just South Africans, but migrants from India, from China, and from the entire Southern African region.
“We are a diverse multi-cultural society that draws on the rich experiences and capabilities of people from across the continent and across the world.
“In responding to these acts of violence and criminality, we must address both the intolerance and the frustration. As we tackle racism and xenophobia, so too must we reinvigorate our efforts to grow an economy that is inclusive and build a state that is capable and developmental,” he said.
The President said South Africans must embrace African integration and the benefits it will bring to the economy and the country’s neighbours.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area will fundamentally reshape the economies of our continent, and we need to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that will be created,” President Ramaphosa said.