Home Affairs: When the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

Today the Business Day (8 October, 2007) printed a story in which Jacky Mashapu, the Home Affairs acting head of communications contradicted a statement made last week by refugee affairs director, Busisiwe Mkhwebane-Tshelha, who stated that the department was considering setting up transit camps

for Zimbabwean refugees on the border between our two countries.

Mashapu claims instead, that the department is considering setting up more refugee reception centres, and that this has “no bearing on Zimbabwean refugees per se.”

It is now evident why the Department of Home Affairs is in such a state of chaos. The right hand has absolutely no idea what the left hand is doing. Statements by one official within the department are contradicted by others. Mkhwebane-Tshelha even gave concrete details about the transit camps plan, which Mashapu is completely in the dark about. The DA would like to know when it will be that the Department speak with one voice, indicating that it actually knows what it is doing.

DA will be tabling questions to ascertain exactly whose statements represent the correct Home Affairs sanctioned position and why it is that the other official was given inaccurate information.

Zimbabwean refugees constitute a crisis for this country, and Home Affairs is quibbling over whether the millions of Zimbabweans in the country are “over-night shoppers” or long term asylum seekers.

The Department should at least have a strategy that all its employees are aware of. It is completely unacceptable that two high-ranking officials in the Department have different instructions that contradict each other.

Not only is this another indication of the critical state of disarray that characterises the Department of Home Affairs, it is also another disappointment for millions of Zimbabwean refugees who would have been accorded some measure of safety in this country. Even worse – it is a let down for the 47 million South Africans who are now left to deal with the refugees without the protection of the state. Once again, the DA must remind the Department that its leader, the Minister, appears to have taken a vow of silence. Does she have any leadership to add to this issue, or any other for that matter?- Democratic Alliance , SA

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