Despite warnings by constitutional experts that he is not acting constitutionally, City of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba insists he cannot build free houses for foreign nationals unless he is given the funding, saying his responsibility was towards South Africans first, Business Day reported on Thursday.
"Please ask them, where must the city get the money?" Mashaba told Business day.
Constitutional expert Pierre de Vos told the paper that the city had a constitutional obligation to provide temporary emergency housing to people who were evicted from condemned buildings, for example.
"...this applies to everyone. That does not only apply to South Africans because the Constitution is not xenophobic," he reportedly said. Marinus Wiechers from Unisa agreed.
But Mashaba reportedly said he did not have the resources to do so.
He reportedly said there was a housing backlog of 300 000 households in the Joburg, and that the city could only build 2000 houses in 2017 with government grants.
"I am sure you are aware of the shortage of resources to build houses for our poor people in SA, in the City of Joburg. I am saying my responsibility is to the people of this country. If ever anybody wants me to build houses for foreign nationals, I will gladly to it... (but authorities) must give us the money," he reportedly said.
The City has come under fire recently as it evicts people from hijacked buildings in the city. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) has accused Mashaba and the City of acting in contravention of two court orders which compelled it to provide temporary accommodation to evictees, TimesLive reported.
Mashaba's spokesperson, Luyanda Mfeka told Business Day that the city would provide accommodation, including temporary emergency accommodation, to everyone. But he said that government subsidised houses would only be provided to citizens and permanent residents.