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south africa crack down on ilegals

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    Gatvol Zuma turns on African leaders
    It's no more Mr Nice Guy as President Jacob Zuma defies his naysayers to crack down on border-hopping, illegal immigrants.

    Police and defence force soldiers check identity documents in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, an area mostly inhabited by foreigners, in the wake of the recent xenophobic violence. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)
    Police and defence force soldiers check identity documents in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, an area mostly inhabited by foreigners, in the wake of the recent xenophobic violence. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

    30 Apr 2015 00:00Mmanaledi Mataboge, Qaanitah Hunter

    Following a week of fierce diplomatic exchanges, the hardened attitude of a “gatvol” President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet towards illegal immigrants is: don’t kill them but deport them, shut them out at South African borders and confine refugees to camps.

    Searches and deportations of illegal immigrants are likely to be a daily occurrence and government sources say the expected costs justify the end.

    The clampdown on illegal immigrations – triggered largely by the diplomatic fallout between South Africa and some African countries – will see soldiers mobilised into action.

    The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Wednesday it had started redeploying the army to the borders before the recent xenophobic attacks.

    “Our deployment, as mentioned by the commander in chief [Zuma], is just to reinforce the systems that have been there,” said SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga. “Some of the modalities of those issues are still being worked out.”

    ‘Gatvol’ and ‘irritated’
    Although some leaders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Nigeria want South Africa to explain its treatment of foreigners within its borders following the recent xenophobic attacks, Zuma is “gatvol” and “irritated” with his continental colleagues who – according to senior aides – seem to be shirking their responsibilities.

    The consequence of the presidential irritation, a senior diplomatic source said, is increased deportation to rid the country of its illegal immigrant burden, tightening border security by sending in the troops, frequent raids and a “no more Mr Nice Guy” diplomatic attitude.

    On the one hand, South Africa is trying to quell internal anger from some of its citizens who believe that foreigners are taking their jobs. On the other, the government is treading carefully to ensure that its toughened stance doesn’t fuel an already tense xenophobic atmosphere.

    Seven people, including South Africans, were killed after xenophobic eruptions that some allege were sparked by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s recent statement that foreigners must pack and go.

    This week Pretoria was irked by Nigeria recalling its high commissioner, even though Abuja subsequently recanted, and by Malawi accusing South Africa of ill-treating its citizens. Furthermore, there was unease over Zimbabwe’s angry statement that 4 000 prisoners in South African jails were Zimbabweans.

    Public anger
    It seems Zuma’s public anger during Monday’s celebrations marking 21 years of freedom and democracy added fuel to the diplomatic conflagrations.

    The latest attack came from Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo on Twitter. “Sad Zuma failed to condemn xenophobia outright. SADC cheap labour built SA economy & region bore brunt of apartheid!” Moyo tweeted.

    He labelled Zuma “xenophobic” for asking why refugees flee to South Africa: “Zuma’s assertion today [Monday] that ‘brother countries’ in Africa contribute to xenophobia by having their citizens in SA is flabbergasting!”

    International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said South Africa would “not engage minister Moyo through the media. We will use diplomatic channels if there are matters we seek to raise.”

    Malawi, through its information minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, said it is discussing joint measures against Pretoria with the African Union and other SADC states.

    “Our message to the government of South Africa is clear: protect other nationals or expect trade repercussions, as we cannot continue discussing regional trade integration with a country where our citizens and our trade partners are being attacked,” Nankhumwa was reported as saying on a Malawian news website.

    Gloves-off approach
    Such messages led to what appears to be a diplomatic gloves-off approach this week. A diplomatic source said that, although everyone is quick to criticise Pretoria, no one is offering a solution. “The problem starts with the sending country,” said the source. “For most of these countries, the problems are political and economic.

    “The second culprits are the transit countries, which are happy to allow the migrants through because they don’t want to take care of them. Somalis, for instance, come through Tanzania, but that country won’t stop them because it doesn’t want to have that extra responsibility.” ...........
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