ANC branches to mull tighter SA citizenship laws at policy conference

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  • The ANC wants the country to have a one migration policy framework. 
  • The party's branches will consider a list of proposals which include the creation of an immigration board, introduction of border patrol officers and decreasing the number of visas and permits offered. 
  • The ANC national policy conference will be held from Thursday to Sunday. 

The ANC wants to overhaul the naturalisation system that saw the Guptas gain citizenship through corrupt avenues. 

The proposal to tighten the country's citizenship forms part of a bulk of proposals being touted by the party ahead of its policy conference on Thursday. 

The proposals also form part of its migration, peace, and stability discussions. 

The Gupta family was naturalised with the help of Department of Home Affairs officials in 2018.

The Public Protector, in 2021, found the family obtained was naturalised in violation of the country's Citizenship Act. 

The circumstances surrounding this were pointed out at the Zondo Commission. 

READ | Guptas' naturalisation: Public Protector finds Gigaba was in breach of Executive Members' Ethics Code

ANC national executive committee member and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the party must scrutinise how people could become citizens. 

He added who could become a South African citizen should be protected in the national interest. 

"We say granting citizenship to anybody has to be in the national interest. We are saying laws by naturalisation must be overhauled by the ANC government," Motsoaledi said on Tuesday. 

He added because the country lacked an overarching policy framework on immigration, gaps were created in the system, leading to abuse and contradictions. 

Motsoaledi said the country had three acts which governed asylum seekers, citizenship and migration, but often these acts were used against each other in legal processes. 

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He added the gap in policy was evident in labour relations, with employers abusing the gaps created between South Africans and foreign nationals. 

Motsoaledi said another problem was that some foreign nationals, refugees and asylum seekers were illegally obtaining permanent residency in the country. 

He added there had to be a clear distinction in law between asylum seekers and economic migrants, saying nothing in the law at the moment distinguished between the two. 

Motsoaledi said the asylum system was overwhelmed by economic migrants who sought better economic opportunities in South Africa. 

As part of a more significant policy framework on migration, the ANC is proposing overhauling the citizenship laws that deal with immigration. 

READ | Foreigners obtain study visas in a day, task team finds

Other ideas focused on reducing the number of visas and permits offered. 

Motsoaledi said there were too many visas and permits offered by the country, which had to be reduced. 

"We have looked at the visas and permits. We have more visas and permits than any other country, which must be reviewed. They are confusing. The spousal visa should not be separate from a visitor's visa. Businesses and corporations are the same. We have a view that we need to abolish a number of them."

The ANC wants the establishment of an immigration board which would deal with appeals from industries, citizens and government departments on decisions taken by the Department of Home Affairs. 

The party also wants the introduction of immigration officers and special courts to deal with immigration.

"The current legislative framework is unsustainable and delays finalising matters that deal with deportation. In some instances, people facing deportation apply for High Court interdicts and by the time the matter sits, we cannot find them," Motsoaledi said. 

ANC branches will have the final say on whether the party adopts these proposals at its national conference in December. 

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