Home Affairs Not in Order

The outcry from miscellaneous members of the South African public, against the lacklustre services by officials of the Department of Home Affairs are amplifying. The list of grievances includes disheartening queues, which commence beyond entrances of the majority of the branches of Home Affairs, key machinery being intermittently offline, fallible plenipotentiaries prone to bribery and most recently the growing calls for the resignation of Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. In my view, Minister Motsoaledi is among the few performing ministers, in an obsolete African National Congress (ANC) led government. He is sadly let down in his present ministry, by inept and corrupt plenipotentiaries. Removing him alone instead of the entire ANC cabinet, will be similar to playing the man instead of the ball. In sum such a move, will not change anything. 

The aforesaid concerns however about the Department of Home Affairs under his watch as the incumbent minister, more than hints at a government department, beset with obstinate challenges. The latest mega bust by the Hawks of a fake passport syndicate, arrested on the 24th of March 2022, is among a string of latest saga’s that serve as evidence, to support claims of corrupt activities apropos the Department of Home Affairs. Minister Motsoaledi confirmed, that 29 suspects including an alleged kingpin, who was the mastermind behind the operation of selling fraudulent passports, were arrested in the Home Affairs office in Krugersdorp. More arrests were imminent at other branches of the Department of Home Affairs. Details of the modus operandi of this syndicate confirmed the deep rot of maladministration which disregarded all the immigration laws of South Africa. Bribery of vulnerable South African victims and officials of the Department of Home Affairs were exposed. The aforesaid case reminds the public of almost similar exposures amongst others in the High Level Panel Report on the State Security Agency (SSA), chaired by former Minister of Safety and Security Sydney Mufamadi (released in December 2018) and the Report on State Capture chaired by the then deputy Chief-Justice Raymond Zondo (released in early 2022).   

Effectiveness of the Department of Home Affairs, continues to be raised amidst the furor caused by infamous skirmishes, led by ‘Operation Dudula’ in Gauteng. The latter justify their operations in the guise of ‘Putting South African’s first’, a salvo directed against Africans they criticize as ‘undocumented foreign nationals’. Such categorization of fellow Africans, must be rejected. As an Afrocentrist (explicated by Molefi Asante as one who subscribes to an ideology that Africans must be at the centre of their own experiences) which must not to be confused with Pan-Africanists (members of a movement not an ideology calling for African unity worldwide). I vehemently take exception, with ahistoric derogatory references to any group of Africans, as this notably manifests self-inferiority. 

Predictably members of the public unimpressed with ‘Operation Dudula’, have problematically slated them as xenophobic. For the record ‘xenophobia’ is a dislike of people from other countries but it implies that those people are of multiple races. Consistent with my Afrocentric stance, I opine that the latter charge is erroneous, in our local context it must appropriately be replaced with Afrophobia, as the attacks are taking place only between indigenous Africans. In a recent interview Minister Motsoaledi found himself compelled to side with his political principal President Cyril Ramaphosa, whom went as far as labelling ‘Operation Dudula’ as a ‘vigilante-like force’. Such demeaning name-calling by the state President, was unnecessary. Ironically the ‘vigilantes’ argue that they are helping government especially Departments of Home Affairs and Police, by weeding out ‘undocumented foreign nationals’. Minister Motsoaledi inflexibly refutes any association between the Department of Home Affairs and ‘Operation Dudula’.  

The Department of Home Affairs, has seemingly been in a quagmire for some time. Unlike their counterparts the Department of Police, led by the obdurate Minister Bheki Cele, Minister Motsoaledi must not be in denial of the reality that his Department must confront, by sketching out plans to overcome identified problems. For starters the website of the Department of Home Affairs, should stop giving the misleading impression (similar to other government departments) of a department, under control. In the wake of ongoing exposes, related to the Department of Home Affairs, any claim(s) of being under control ought to be read as preposterous. The listed concerns at the commencement of this article, certainly challenges any denial of the Department of Home Affairs, being in any purported position, that may support wishful thinking of being under control. Denialism will not solve anything. In reality when one considers the malfeasance, by an array of rogue individuals with proximity to politicians, in cahoots with government officials, then maladministration and corruption at the Department of Home Affairs (as elsewhere) should not astonish anyone. Required solution(s) must begin from the premise, that more than enough documents capturing rules and regulations of running government departments exist. What has always lacked, is enough ethical plenipotentiaries with the political will to adhere and implement rules.  

Dr. Tshepo Mvulane Moloi

The writer is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies (AMCHES) and a Research Associate at African Centre for Epistemology and Philosophy of Science (ACEPS) – University of Johannesburg.