Multi-stakeholder workshop looks into migration impact on rural areas, local government

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Government has set out to review areas of cooperation among various stakeholders following the successful International Migration Workshop with traditional leaders and mayors from metro and district municipalities earlier this month.

Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Thembi Nkadimeng, co-hosted the workshop in October in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.

The purpose of the workshop was to provide a platform for stakeholders to share practical experiences on how migration impacts the communities they lead at local level, and to identify possible areas of cooperation.

Motsoaledi and Nkadimeng were joined by other ministries who, in view of their legislative mandates, are directly affected by the issue of international migration.

They included Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi; Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, led by Acting Director-General, Malebo Mabitje -Thompson.

Other key stakeholders were the Public Service Commission Chairperson Prof Somadoda Fikeni, Border Management Authority Commissioner Dr Mike Masiapato and a delegation from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), led by President Cllr Bheki Stofile, Mayors and Speakers from Districts, Metropolitan and Local Municipalities.

There were also leaders from the National House of Traditional and Khoi and San leaders led by its chairperson, Kgosi Thabo Seatlholo, all provincial houses of traditional leaders led by their chairpersons, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (“CONTRALESA”) led by  its President, Kgoshi Lameck Mokoena, the National Khoi and San Council led by Deputy Chairperson, Mr Anthony Peterson and the Royal Leaders of South Africa (“ROLESA”) led by Secretary-General, Kgoshigadi Moremadi Mothapo.

The workshop agreed on key areas of cooperation to achieve effective management of migration, and these include:

  • Review of international agreements (Conventions and Protocols) with a view to accede to them with reservations where necessary, taking national interest into consideration.
  • Policy and legislative reforms, including the following legislation: Citizenship Act (Act 88 of 1995), Identification Act (Act 68 of 1997), Refugee Act (Act 130 of 1998) and Immigration Act (Act 13 of 2002).
  • Introduction of Omnibus by-laws to promote standardised and effective enforcement by all municipalities. This will address the challenges relating to trading and enforcement of business by-laws by municipalities and traditional authorities.

“In support of this intervention, there will be immediate joint inspections of businesses by labour, health, trade, industry and competition and immigration inspectorate teams to enforce compliance with applicable laws.

“Government will assist in strengthening the planning units in municipalities so that they are able to interpret the data and prepare development plans that are aligned to the current trends. [The auditing] of spaza shops in villages and townships and mechanisms to register them by both traditional leaders and municipalities [should also take place],” the Department of Home Affairs said.

The meeting also looked at reviewing of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act (Act 19 of 1998) to facilitate the effective implementation in instances of illegal occupation of land.

The meeting also agreed on the following:

  • Strengthening Local Economic Development (LED) through, among others, supporting citizens who wish to trade in the informal sector; ensuring that business licensing legislation is amended, and promoting the assignment of LED Officers, who would also interface with traditional authorities.
  • Supporting the Department of Human Settlements process of reviewing the 1994 White Paper to respond to current needs and challenges related to informal settlements and illegal occupation of buildings in inner cities.
  • Coordination and collaboration of border law enforcement between government, traditional and Khoi-San leaders and the Border Management Authority (BMA).
  • Supporting traditional authorities to keep a record of foreign nationals in their communities
  • Reviewing resource allocation for municipalities to address the unique resources pressures of municipalities and also capacitation of municipalities on data analysis.
  • The establishment of a working group that will meet regularly to track progress on the work done by various entities and government departments to ensure a ‘whole of government and civil society’ approach towards managing international migration and its effects.

“We are pleased that SALGA has already issued a statement on the workshop. This is in the spirit of cooperation and partnership which the workshop called for. We look forward to more role players coming on board to lend their hand in this important matter of national importance,” the department said. –