9 Mar 2023
Impact of unmanaged migration on municipal limited resources in the spotlight at SALGA’s National Summit on Migration, Polokwane, Limpopo
The changing population dynamics and geographic boundaries imposed by unmanaged migration have sparked renewed calls for more resources to be considered for municipalities and for a more concerted effort to effectively manage migration.
The impact of unmanaged migration in municipalities took centre stage during the deliberation at the SALGA’s National Migration Summit which is taking place in Polokwane, Limpopo, 8 -9 March 2023, where stakeholders across all spheres of government have gathered with the common purpose; to coordinate all partners to effectively manage migration and agree on a government cooperation agreement.
Addressing delegates on Thursday, SALGA Cllr President Bheke Stofile said there was an urgent need to consider the fluid population into the resources of municipalities.
“There is a dire need for more effective cooperative governance, collaboration to managing the borders of the country by the different sectors of government, business, civil society and communities,” Stofile said.
Local authorities are responsible for not only the changing geographic boundaries, but also the changing populations within them.
“Illegal Migration presents unique challenges to municipalities and affects the processes of the municipalities differently. There are municipalities with highly fluid populations, particularly those with international borders whose capacity to render services is severely strained by the increased numbers. This ranges from spatial planning, economic growth, safety and security, provision of services to other constitutional requirements that are expected from the local government sector,” he said.
“The resources, both human and financial do not address these challenges. The equitable allocation is based on population size and revenue base of a municipality,” he added.
The two-day SALGA National Migration Summit which is still underway in Polokwane is deliberating on the impact of the current policies on the management of migration, how best can management of migration be governed, how best to address cross-border crimes which impact South Africa negatively, and how best to alleviate the burden of border control and documentation of immigrants, among others.
Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi told the Executive Mayors, municipal managers, civil society, and business that the summit was being convened at a time when things have already “gone sour”, citing various documented problems that have come as a result of unmanaged migration in the country.
Motsoaledi said he had agreed to speak at the summit because of its promise to draw a common programme of action for all government spheres and stakeholders for effective management of migration. Motsoaledi said the summit was aligned with the objectives of his department and supported the calls for a coordinated approach and an end to working in silos.
Motsoaledi says at his department he was rooting out corruption and dismissing officials who are implicated in criminal activities and guilty of colluding with criminals to obtain fraudulent identification and South African passports.
“We have declared a war on this,” he said.
The SALGA National Conference which took place in March 2022, resolved that SALGA must facilitate the establishment of an intergovernmental program that will seek to address challenges related to illegal migration affecting municipalities. This was brought about by municipalities along the country’s borders raising difficulties on a range of issues associated with population movement and settlement within their boundaries, of undocumented individuals.
“SALGA has deemed it necessary to host a National Summit on Migration with the purpose of developing a government cooperation agreement to address migration issues,” Stofile said.
SALGA Limpopo Chairperson & Polokwane Local Municipality Mayor Cllr Makoro Mpe who earlier delivered a welcome address summit said the summit was meeting on a matter that has caught lobal attention.
“Polokwane being a border city is also ceased with migration issues. This summit comes at a time when we are exploring ways to use our limited resources to manage migration. In many of our communities, there are foreign nationals making meaningful contributions while others are involved in criminal activities. We need to be frank in addressing all-encompassing challenges,” said Mpe.
Day one of the summit included two panel discussions, one on Policy and Governance, and the second one focussed on Cross Border Crime; their effects on local government and the value of cross border collaborations. The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) provided an informative presentation on the SANDF’s role in controlling illegal immigration and discussed possible areas of cooperation amongst border municipalities to strengthen border security.
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