The following remarks were made today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a public meeting in Nkomazi, Mpumalanga.
My fellow South Africans,
Our border posts, such as the one near here at Jeppes Reef, are meant to protect South Africans and their interests, whether it be from cross-border crime, drug trafficking, illegal immigration or the illicit flow of money. But they don’t. Instead they are weak and vulnerable to exploitation, and pose a risk to all South Africans.
Understaffed, under-equipped and poorly maintained, our borders and border posts have become easy pickings for those who want to enter our country illegally, or conduct illegal activities on both sides of the border. And it is mostly poor South Africans, and not the rich and powerful in government, who bear the brunt of this problem.
It is poor South Africans who are targeted by the cross-border drugs trade. It is poor South Africans who fall victim to human trafficking syndicates. It is poor South Africans who have to face increased competition for healthcare, education and housing resources. And it is poor South Africans whose lives are most affected when we lose precious tax revenue to illicit trade and smuggling.
When the DA makes the call for more secure borders and better documentation of all people entering our country, it is because we are acting in the interest of those who are most affected: poor South Africans.
Ironically, it is precisely our porous, weak borders that seem to benefit the ruling elite and their billionaire friends across the world. How else would Jacob Zuma have brought hundreds of millions of Rands of Gaddafi’s money into South Africa in the first place to hide it at his Nkandla homestead? And how else would he manage to shift this vast amount of money across the border into eSwatini?
And if the former President of the Republic can do so with impunity – and allegedly with the knowledge of government and the current President – then what does that mean for the Rule of Law here in South Africa? How are ordinary South Africans meant to respect the laws of the country if they see those at the very top disregarding these laws at will?
If our borders were secure, and if these border posts were properly equipped and properly staffed by personnel who were prepared to do their job without fear or favour, Gaddafi’s millions would never have entered our country illegally, let alone left our country again the same way.
No country in the world can afford to turn a blind eye to the comings and goings across its borders. Yet our government has allowed the situation here to deteriorate to the point where some stretches of our land borders are a complete free-for-all.
The fact is, the ANC government does not care what happens to ordinary South Africans when it neglects to do its duty. It only cares about itself. The ANC government has neither the plan nor the desire to fix our border fences, bolster our border posts and reform Home Affairs.
The DA, on the other hand, has a comprehensive plan to immediately plug our porous borders and reform Home Affairs to rid it of its debilitating corruption and incompetence. If the old ANC government won’t fix it, then the new DA government will.
Our plan includes auditing, properly recording and, where appropriate, regularising all undocumented foreign nationals already in the country.
We will make legal entry and residence easier for skilled immigrants and businesses from all countries, especially from within Africa. We will also help South Africans to travel and do business, and we will assist those wanting to live, work and trade in South Africa legally.
Our plan also includes assistance and support for asylum seekers, and the protection of refugees and those who have been trafficked across our borders.
We will review the number and size of border posts to increase the number of points of legal entry and exit, and we will ensure effective and coordinated border security through increased policing capacity at our border posts and along our borders.
We will also increase the 15 SANDF companies protecting South Africa’s borders to the required 22 companies, and ensure that they are properly resourced and trained.
Those are just some of the steps a DA government will take to ensure that South Africans are kept safe, and their interests protected. I urge you to read our manifesto to get the full plan for our borders, as well as our plan to clean up Home Affairs.
But if we are to make this plan a reality, we will need you to do your bit first. You need to add your vote to the millions of others who are tired of the empty promises and the endless corruption of the ANC government, and who want change.
Grab this opportunity on 8 May to shape the destiny of our country, and to help build the kind of South Africa you want to live in. It is only through the power of our collective votes that we can make our democracy work for us.
Let’s make 8 May the day we take the power back from those who have abused it for too long. Together we will build one united, prosperous South Africa for all.