The DA has a plan – and the will – to secure our borders

We live in a world where borders and border control are vital to the running of nations. It is of the utmost importance that we know, at all times, who has entered and left our country, and that everyone here is properly documented.

This is particularly true here in Africa, where national budgets are stretched and where proper planning is critical to meeting the needs of the people. If we want to give not only South Africa, but indeed the continent of Africa, the best chance at prosperity and safety, then we need to ensure that all governments have a very clear picture of the scope of their task.

We must also make a far bigger effort at focusing our foreign policy on fostering stability throughout the SADC region. We owe it to our neighbours to help them find sustainable and peaceful solutions to their economic and political challenges. And a stable and peaceful SADC region is in everyone’s interest, not least of which ours.

We must condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the xenophobic attacks which recently took place in parts of KZN. Our democracy must be one of tolerance and respect for one another, and we cannot allow our relationships with foreign nationals to be characterised by mistrust, fear and violence. That is not who we are as a nation.

Secure borders and effective migration management are essential if you want to plan ahead for services like housing, healthcare and education. They’re also essential for safeguarding citizens against rampant cross-border crime, including stock theft, vehicle theft and drug trafficking.

No country in the world can afford to abandon its borders and allow undocumented people to come and go as they please. And yet this is precisely what this ANC government has done. Not because it stands ideologically opposed to borders, but because it simply cannot do its job.

Between the Department of Home Affairs and the South African National Defence Force, our borders right across the country have become a complete free-for-all, leaving ordinary South Africans to pay the price, and leaving communities near these borders at the mercy of criminals.

This border here between Lesotho and South Africa is no exception. In places there is only the Caledon River that stands between Lesotho and South Africa, and for most of the year it is low enough to be no deterrent at all. People who live up and down the river here are under constant attack from cross-border stock thieves. They also suffer a host of other crimes, including house robbery and vehicle and tractor theft.

Stock theft is a massive problem all across South Africa, and particularly here in the Free State. Just this week police discovered around 400 stolen cattle on a farm in the Steynsrus area. It is suspected that these cattle were stolen from farmers all across the province, as well as neighbouring provinces. Our farmers need the protection of government if they are to keep us food-secure, but they have been let down.

If the ANC government cared at all about the communities along the Caledon River, as well as South Africans in general, it would have plugged our porous borders a long time ago. It would have fixed the fences and it would have staffed and equipped border posts such as this one here in Ficksburg to effectively deal with the thousands of people who cross every day at this border post, as well as the border posts at Maseru Bridge and further down at Wepener.

But it clearly doesn’t care, which is why you find border posts that are severely understaffed and with equipment in dire need of repair or replacement. It is why you find stock theft and farming equipment theft amounting to more than R7 billion in this province alone. It is why you find new outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in provinces like the Free State and Limpopo.

It is unacceptable that our borders have become almost non-existent in places, and that our border control has become severely compromised by corruption, under-resourcing and incompetence.

Securing our borders is not simply about keeping people out. It is about ensuring that all migration occurs legally. It is about knowing who has entered the country and documenting their status.

It is about being able to plan ahead and make sure our budgets can stretch to cover all they need to cover. It is about making it easier for those who want to enter South Africa legally – because we want legal, law-abiding people to bring their skills here and help grow our economy – but making it impossible for those who want to enter illegally.

The DA is the only party willing to take on this issue. We are the only party with a plan to secure our borders and rid Home Affairs of corruption so that legitimate migrants like refugees and asylum-seekers get the protection they deserve from the state, while illegal immigrants are stopped before they even cross the border.

A DA-led national government will do so by:

  • Auditing, properly recording and, where appropriate, regularising all undocumented foreign nationals already in the country.
  • Making legal entry and residence easier for skilled immigrants and businesses from all countries, especially from within Africa.
  • Helping South Africans to travel and do business, and assisting those wanting to live, work and trade in South Africa legally.
  • Deporting those who have illegally entered our country’s borders, harbours and airports, and doing so fairly, efficiently and legally.
  • Assisting and supporting asylum seekers, and protecting refugees and those who have been trafficked across our borders.
  • Reviewing the number and size of border posts and their management to increase the number of points of legal entry and exit.
  • Ensuring effective and coordinated border security and border control through increased policing capacity at our border posts and along our borders.
  • Increasing the 15 SANDF companies protecting South Africa’s borders to the required 22 companies, and ensuring that they are properly resourced and trained.

 

 

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