An interrogation of service delivery by the Department of Home Affairs towards immigrants exploring the possibility of afrophobia within xenophobia: a case study of the Durban regional Department of Home Affairs.
Umeh, Akachukwu Darlington.
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This study was premised on the knowledge that the positive socio-economic image of a democratic government depends largely upon the humanistic effects of its policy, implementation and conduct of those that implement (those saddled with the responsibility of implementation of the policy) on one side, and the perceptions of its citizenry and immigrants regarding the acceptable standards of services offered by the departments on the other side. The argument of the study is that what is widely regarded as xenophobia in South Africa is way beyond that, as most migrants who bear the brunt of this ugly phenomenon are presumably and mostly people of colour (black African immigrants). It is therefore of crucial importance that government departments act equitably, justly and fairly to all and sundry, and not only pay lip service to transparency and openness. Socio-economic development vis-à-vis good governance is an elusive commodity if it does not address the ills of its society such as marginalisation and uneven allocation of the common wealth of the nation. Adherence to these principles will guarantee the provision of excellent services that meet the people’s needs and expectations, enhance customer satisfaction, while upholding the government’s promise that access to decent public services is no longer a privilege to be enjoyed by a few, but the rightful expectation of all citizens inclusive of other nationals residing within its borders. What separates non-nationals is the degree to which exclusion is both bureaucratically institutionalised and socially legitimatised. In all cases, it is not only the material acts of marginalisation that matters; imprisonment, denial of services, or harassment (eg. recent 2016/2017 Operation Fiela) but also the nationalist discourse evoked to legitimise and explain them. From the literature review, it is evident that improved public service delivery depends on several aspects ranging from policy making and implementation, Human Resource Development (HRD), training and re-training, to performance measurement and accountability. The need for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the public services cannot be over-emphasised throughout the various pieces of legislation. Questionnaires and interviews were used to generate, collate data and to gain an understanding from the perspective of the black African immigrants. Both quantitative and qualitative approaches as well as methods triangulation was adopted in the analysis of the collated data, which revealed to a greater extent that the popularly held perception of black African immigrants in South Africa is that they are relatively deprived in terms of quality of service delivery at the Department of Home Affairs, as a result of their vulnerability. Hence, the Theory of Relative Deprivation, Social Comparison and Afrophobia informs an explanation for the phenomenon and underpinned issues regarding why, how and to whom xenophobia manifests. The key findings are that, firstly, migrants’ experiences with officials were predominantly negative. Secondly, the primary basis for differential treatment of migrants was their foreignness, regardless of their nationality. The findings are not only beneficial to the participants (black African immigrants), political actors saddled with the responsibility of policy-making, but also to the South African government and all public-sector institutions dealing with migration policy and immigrants in particular. The recommendations of the study are not to negate but rather to challenge for alternative ways to achieve the status quo. The bottom-up approach in engagement with migration policy formulation and implementation is most sacrosanct.