South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, has attacked the Helen Suzman Foundation for challenging the ministry’s decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits.
In a statement, Motsoaledi said, “In an open and transparent democracy, organs of civil society have an important role to play. Most of the times, they do so in the national interest. However, at times, some of them can be a stumbling block in the implementation of Government’s rational and lawful decisions, which are in the national interest. The recent surprising court action launched by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) is a perfect example of the destructive role that some non-governmental organisations (NGO) are capable of.”
Motsoaledi said his ministry has always engaged the HSF regarding some of the challenges faced by the Department in the past.
“The Minister has engaged with HSF on several occasions with positive outcomes. Since the announcement of the decision of the Minister not to extend the exemption granted to Zimbabwean nationals, he has engaged with several members of civil society with a view to manage the consequences of his decision collectively. This time around, the HSF was conspicuous by its silence. Little did the Minister know that the HSF was behind the scenes planning the so called “public interest” court action.
“There’s a disturbing and growing trend by some NGOs to sabotage the polycentric and policy laden decisions taken by Government by using the courts. This development must be nipped in the bud as soon as possible. South Africa is now under the dictatorship of some of the NGOs with some having faceless and dubious funders. Their ultimate aim is to assist in the dislodgement of government of the day from power by all means available.”
He said the decision of the Minister not to extend the exemptions granted to Zimbabwean nationals has been widely supported by South African citizens.
“The HSF, in its desperate bid to blackmail the nation, is twisting the support for the Minister’s decision by the majority of South African citizens as being 'xenophobic'. Nothing could be further from the truth. The HSF access to the courts is guaranteed in the Constitution. However, this should not be a licence to abuse the Bill of Rights by some armchair critics, who have no idea of the sacrifices and deaths of many freedom fighters, while they sat in the comfort of their homes because of the colour of their skin. They now claim to be champions of the human rights of the African people in whole continent.
“The HSF is now conveniently playing the victim card by alleging that it is being threatened. We have no evidence of the alleged threat. If it is true, the Minister does not condone and strongly condemns such threats. On the contrary, it is public knowledge that the Minister was openly threatened after taking the decision. Death threats were issued against him publicly.”
Motsoaledi said the Minister and the Department of Home Affairs will vigorously defend the lawful, reasonable and rational decision of the Minister.
“We cannot be expected to throw up our hands in despair and fail the people of South Africa. Having said that, the Minister’s door is always open for constructive engagement, rather than waste the ever shrinking Government resources to defend unnecessary court challenges. The Minister hopes that sense will prevail and that the HSF will opt for engagement than embark on a spurious court action, which can only lead to further tensions between citizens and foreign nationals.
“If HSF has the interests of Africans in the continent at heart, the Minister expects it to play its constructive role in assisting the affected Zimbabwean nationals to apply for one or the other visas provided for in the Immigration Act. The Minister calls upon all affected Zimbabwean nationals to ignore the false hope created by the HSF and adhere to the procedures outlined by the Department in various public notices and communication.