The pros and cons of Aaron Motsoaledi’s Insecure and Paranoid approach to immigration

In the wake of the elections, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has gone unhinged on immigration policies and the immigration crisis in South Africa.

In this article, we will discuss why Aaron Motsoaledi’s approach could be seen as xenophobic. And why are foreigners and tourists in fear of his paranoia around foreigners?

Note: This is an opinion piece based on the research and perspective of the journalist.

Why Cyril Ramaphosa made Aaron Motsoaledi the Minister of Home Affairs

A year after Cyril Ramaphosa became the president of South Africa in 2018, he made a change of cabinet. In the reshuffling of ministers, he placed Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in the home affairs department. And this was a strategic decision since Aaron had proven to be a very determined minister in any department he was placed in.

However, Cyril Ramaphosa placed him here because he wanted to ensure a second term as the South African president. Most South Africans have grievances about border control and the issue of porous borders.

Aaron Motsoaledi was accused of chasing away tourists by declaring them undesirable if they didn't leave RSA
Aaron Motsoaledi was accused of chasing away tourists by declaring them undesirable if they didn’t leave RSA

In fact, most parties began on the basis of simply chasing out illegal immigrants. So, the ANC knew that if they were the ones doing the chasing, they would leave those opportunistic parties with absolutely nothing to offer.

In fact, in a recent rally, Ramaphosa himself said the other political parties had absolutely nothing to bring to the table, and to be fair, he’s right. Most parties had only one thing in common with the ANC, and that was their poor immigration regulation under Jacob Zuma.

So, parties like the PA, Action SA, and many more emerged and gained momentum under the guise of promising to deport illegal immigrants.

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The problem with Aaron Motsoaledi’s paranoia

While Aaron is a very zealous man, studying all the relevant acts in his ministry and knowing the law like the back of his hand, he has one weakness. And that weakness is paranoia. Motsoaledi is a perfectionist, and while that’s a good thing in theory, in practice it can lead to unwanted results.

Motsoaledi became so obsessed with illegal immigrants and immigration. He felt that every foreign national with permanent residence must have gotten it fraudulently.

And while that may be true in some cases, like the Kudakwashe case,. In which he claims that Kudakwashe’s permanent residence permit was fraudulently issued,. His paranoia has led to many criminal cases.

Aaron has blocked over 2 million ID numbers, threatens to terminate 200,000 ZEP and makes visa processing more bureaucratic
Aaron has blocked over 2 million ID numbers, threatens to terminate 200,000 ZEP and makes visa processing more bureaucratic

For example, he’s still fighting to overturn the ruling of the Supreme Court. Which found that his termination of the ZEP permits was unconstitutional. But that’s not all; the minister has also had some conversations leaked. Which seemed to threaten tourists who sought to prolong their vacations in South Africa.

Indeed, in the leaked conversation, the minister alleged that if, by February, the tourists had not renewed their visas, they’d be declared undesirable.

He has since backtracked. And she said that if they had a receipt showing that they had applied for a visa and were awaiting a decision, they couldn’t be deported. Until such a time as they received the response.

However, he has also argued that he wasn’t wrong to start with. Saying that the law doesn’t allow a visa extension of more than 180 days.

At the time of this publication, there are over 2 million tourists awaiting a response from the department. And he had threatened to declare all of them undesirable.

Why Aaron Motsoaledi could be Xenophobic

Now, aside from being tough on immigration, the minister has escalated his toughness to calling all illegal immigrants lizards. Saying that all that crossed the border illegally were lizards.

He was saying this in connection with the Kudakwashe case. In which the man was allegedly found to have been a fraudulently issued permanent resident.

Motsoaledi vowed to remove all corrupt officials in the department with the help of his special investigation unit. Furthermore, Motsoaledi has threatened to go into communities to deport illegal immigrants and urged communities to snitch on their neighbors.

The problem is his insecure approach

But that’s not all; the minister has been doing random stop-and-search programs on highways and asking everyone to produce identification. Even if you’re South African, you could get arrested if you didn’t produce any identification.

This actually happened in Johannesburg when a minor was arrested for not having an ID. Even though minors aren’t required to travel with their documents in South Africa,. Furthermore, they’re not allowed to be arrested either, as their stay isn’t their fault.

However, Aaron’s paranoia has led the immigration officers and police to arrest people at will. Regardless of language proficiency and other factors,. And now, in a recent press conference in Pretoria, the minister addressed all the problems his department is facing and how they would deal with them.

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The flaws in Motsoaledi’s logic and approach

Even though it can be argued that Aaron’s intentions seem to be pure and about national security,. His position of suspecting everyone can only lead to a lot of court orders. Which he might cost the department not only money but also its reputation.

For example, the minister had blocked 2 million ID numbers of South Africans and permanent residents. Because he said their IDs were issued irregularly.

Aaron Motsoaledi started off with the establishment of the BMA
Aaron Motsoaledi started off with the establishment of the BMA

He did all that without informing any of them, and he was dragged to court and lost. As of now, about 200,000 ID numbers are still blocked.

His logic is that every foreign national who receives a permanent residence or any duplicate ID number is a definitive answer that the ID is fraudulent.

He seems to think no foreigner is legally in South Africa

But we all know that there are plenty of people who get married to foreign nationals legitimately. Or who received permanent residences after working under a general or critical work visa.

In other words, Aaron believes it is impossible to obtain a permanent residence in the right way in South Africa, so if anyone has it, he feels the need to investigate them and find fault.

And even if his suspicions may be right, permanent residents need not live in fear of inspection or termination at will without notice by the department.

The minister went as far as accusing South African women of being bribed to marry outsiders, saying they’ll make the process more thorough to make sure that people really love each other.


Aaron’s doubts that any foreign national can be legal in South Africa legitimately. He intentionally or unintentionally leads to the ultimate discrimination and undermining of legit South African documentation.

He is destroying the trust of South Africans in documentation and creating an unhealthy bias in which even those who received their paperwork correctly are in fear of being accused of bribery and fraud.

Which ultimately undermines trust in not only the documents’ legitimacy but also in the documentation itself. So, whether he intends to or not, the minister’s reign has proven to be top-tier hostility against all foreign nationals, threatening their stay in South Africa.