Gauteng premier David Makhura has called Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba back to earth about his threat to kick foreigners out of his city. Makhura said Mashaba does not possess the authority to play in the territory he has ventured into.
"A mayor has no authority to send anyone home ... In a campaign, you can say that but when you get into a position of mayor you discover no mayor can send someone out of their city. But it's easy to say that," said Makhura.
Mashaba recently came under fire when he labelled foreigners illegally in the country criminals and vowed to drive them out of Johannesburg. He declared war on them, saying they were not welcome in the city.
Makhura tried to quell the situation on Thursday night and said sometimes people make unattainable promises during election campaigns. He said when one runs an elective campaign, things look straight forward.
"They make a pronouncement only to realise we don't have the power to do that when it comes to governance," Makhura said.
The premier offered words of advice to Mashaba informing him that he had to look at the problem holistically and the ramifications of policies.
"I was also explaining that our own system at home affairs is too slow. It illegalises people who have come in legally. You have a lot of people who came in legally but are no longer so because they are waiting for their papers. You have to be careful when you deal with that. Then there are refugees, there are different categories. When you get to those who are truly here illegally, the numbers are not the same. Then you have people who are here because the economies have collapsed like Zimbabwe. How do you deal with that?"
Makhura said he believed Mashaba was referring to people illegally occupying buildings in the city as criminals and not all foreigners. He, however, called on him to refrain from sending out those kind of messages as the consequences could be dire. The last time a leader made a similar pronouncement, attacks against African foreign nationals flared up through the country and left many displaced and injured.
"You can't send a message like the one he has. You can ignite the fire of the people," said Makhura.