A PROGRESSIVE strategy that ensures the integration of migrants in the city was being adopted by Johannesburg.
So said Executive Mayor Amos Masondo, speaking at the third Hague International Migration Workshop, at Constitution Hill on 13 August. Hosted by the City of Johannesburg, it brings together City officials, NGOs and governmental representatives to discuss ways of providing for the health and housing needs of migrants. The workshop opened on Wednesday and ends today.
Masondo said that in just under 24 months, the City had developed a support strategy for migrants.
"Local government in South Africa, including the City of Johannesburg, is committed to ensuring that all those who live within its jurisdiction and abide by its laws have a decent quality of life."
It was important that local governments focused on the challenges of migration and urban governance. "This should be so in spite of limited financial resources and sometimes even a limited management capacity," he said.
Housing and health
The number of people living in Joburg was expected to grow by some 3,5 million people in the next 25 years. South Africa's policy of migrant and refugee settlement and urban integration, rather than confinement to camps, meant that migrants competed within the generally overburdened urban housing market.
Masondo assured the gathering that the City of Johannesburg was striving to deal with its housing shortage.
"The City has embarked on a mixed-income housing programme to ensure integrated and inclusive human settlements. By the year 2011, the City would have built 50,000 houses for mixed-income groups."
In terms of health care, no formal documents would be required at clinics, resulting in free primary health care and environmental health services being available to all, he said.
Professor Lorren Landau, the director of forced migration studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, pointed out that foreign nationals contributed to Johannesburg's economy.
"In our research, we have found that those international migrants are typically better educated and [are] likely to generate jobs for South Africans."
The challenge for the city was to rout out xenophobia, ignorance and other forms of discrimination in the public bureaucracy, the police and the private sector.
"If we are to build an inclusive and prosperous city, we must rethink how we engage with populations," he said.