Researchers have proposed that local governments integrate foreign nationals into their low-cost housing programmes.

Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon‚ lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand’s department of social anthropology‚ said the provision of housing in big cities should not be seen as a problem facing foreign nationals but the continuation of a backlog which has its roots in the country’s past.

“I don’t think foreign nationals should get most of the housing but I do think that there should be mechanisms in low-cost housing development schemes for some level of inclusion. [In the City of Johannesburg] the DA has committed itself to the provision of low-cost housing in the inner city and that is a good development. But there needs to be a monitoring system to make sure that it caters for low-income needs.

“There also needs to be some integration of foreign nationals into this programme. Also in the interim‚ one has to provide basic services to the occupied [hijacked buildings]. There needs to be monitoring of evictions because the way that they are carried out in the city is very violent‚” said Wilhelm-Solomon.

Wilhelm-Solomon was speaking on the sidelines of an indaba organized by the SA Human Rights Commission which is looking at the provision of housing for migrants in the cities and towns of Gauteng.

The issue of access to housing for migrants‚ especially foreign ones‚ has been a contentious one since Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba announced that the city would take over hijacked buildings and convert them into low-cost housing. Mashaba also absolved the city from any responsibility for foreign nationals living in Johannesburg.

Wilhelm-Solomon said the cities should provide some form of basic services to hijacked buildings while looking for a permanent solution.

“You have very low-income groups living in these buildings. This idea that these buildings are run by criminals is not always the case. There should be engagement by the municipal government to provide basic service to improve living conditions. I don’t think this present policy of just raiding the buildings is going to work. I think you need participatory governance that engages communities living in these buildings.”

Meanwhile‚ the SA Human Rights Commission’s provincial manager‚ Buang Jones‚ told the indaba that Mashaba would be at the organization’s office on Thursday following a complaint about his utterances on foreigners.

“A complaint was lodged with the Gauteng office of the SA Human Rights Commission in 2016. The complaint was about the utterances attributed to the mayor of Johannesburg. According to the complainant [African Diaspora]‚ the mayor’s utterances amounted to hate speech and were discriminatory towards foreign nationals.

“The best way to resolve this complaint is through an authentic dispute resolution mechanism. Both parties have indicated their availability to come to a mediation process on Thursday. This process is owned by the parties. The commission plays a facilitating role‚” said Jones.

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Nigerians in South Africa
Nigerians in South Africa 8193 posts

We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

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