Putting the Freedom Charter into Action: Enriching South Africa's White Paper on Immigration
The African National Congress welcomes the release of the White Paper on citizenship, immigration, and refugee protection. The White Paper comes at a crucial time when South Africa’s immigration and refugee systems need an overhaul.
The White Paper aims to harmonize different pieces of legislation towards a single immigration regime to regulate immigration and refugee status. These issues have been a significant concern for South Africans, illegal immigrants, and human rights groups, leading to conflict, accusations of xenophobia, and their impact on the economy, education, health, service delivery, and job creation.
To build a single legal and policy framework, the ANC encourages the public to participate in shaping and developing the new law.
The ANC-led government aims to align the new law with the country’s developmental path based on the needs and considerations of the public, as envisaged by the Constitution and, most importantly, the Bill of Rights. The country’s Constitution urges all South Africans and its public representatives to “build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.”
The ANC-led government involving the public in legislative and consultative processes is an important democratic exercise. It is consistent with our long-standing principle the people shall govern.
By taking this approach, the country demonstrates its commitment to designing laws and policies that benefit all citizens. The new laws being put in place will address critical issues surrounding immigration and refugees.
South Africa is home to many immigrants and refugees who have had to leave their countries for various reasons – conflicts, armed violence, disasters, pandemics, and other factors. It’s important to recognize the struggles of these individuals and offer them compassion and support whilst ensuring that our country can account for their presence in our borders. We must all work towards creating a more inclusive and welcoming society for everyone without compromising our sovereignty.
South Africans have been calling for an overhaul of the country’s immigration, citizenship, and refugee laws due to the high influx of undocumented immigrants and its impact on the economy and citizens’ lives.
This White Paper is in response to the public’s call and concerns on the current immigration and refugee laws, including the Citizenship Act, a relic of the colonial era and a replica of the 1949 Citizenship Act under the Union of South Africa, which no longer exists.
The White Paper is also underpinned by the resolutions of the 55th National Congress on migration.
The ANC-led government must completely overhaul the Citizenship Act, Refugees Act, and Immigration Act to meet the new challenges facing South Africa. As an international trend, the government must introduce a single legislation for citizenship, immigration, and refugee protection.
In the new policy framework, the acquisition of citizenship through marriage must be abolished. If a South African citizen marries a foreign national, their rights and consequences thereof should be governed by
other laws such as the Marriages Act and the Children Act. This issue should not be linked to immigration law.
As part of the complete overhaul of the system, the policy framework of the ANC-led government must provide for establishing the Immigration Board, which comprises relevant departments. The practical implementation of the National Labor Migration Policy, which introduced quotas on the employment of foreign nationals, should go a long way in defusing the violence between South African citizens and foreign workers.
The ANC-led government should consider establishing Immigration Courts or unique mechanisms to ensure the speedy decision-making process. The international norm is to locate refugee reception Centres in border areas to avoid people having to present themselves inside the country.
The ANC calls upon all citizens and stakeholders to comment to enrich the White Paper. Let us put the Freedom Charter into action.
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ISSUED BY THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
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