DA leader Mmusi Maimane. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA).

Johannesburg- The leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane on Saturday blamed the ruling African National Congress (ANC) for South Africa's "porous borders" which he said had allowed "Gaddafi’s millions" to unlawfully enter and leave the country.

"Ironically, it is precisely our porous, weak borders that seem to benefit the ruling elite and their billionaire friends across the world. How else would Jacob Zuma have brought hundreds of millions of Rand of Gaddafi’s money into South Africa in the first place to hide it at his Nkandla homestead?" asked Maimane, who made his remarks at a public meeting in Nkomazi, Mpumalanga.  

"And how else would he manage to shift this vast amount of money across the border into eSwatini?"

Maimane's remarks were in apparent reference to recent media reports, which Zuma has since denied. 

A local weekend newspaper reported that Zuma was in possession of $30-million (R418,5-million) belonging to the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The report said before the Libyan leader was captured and killed in 2011, Gaddafi had given the money to Zuma for "safekeeping". Zuma was president of South Africa at the time.

The newspaper also alleged that Zuma stashed the money at his private Nkandla residence before moving it to neighbouring eSwatini.

On Saturday morning Maimane said: "Our border posts, such as the one near here at Jeppes Reef, are meant to protect South Africans and their interests, whether it be from cross-border crime, drug trafficking, illegal immigration or the illicit flow of money. But they don’t. Instead, they are weak and vulnerable to exploitation and pose a risk to all South Africans.

"Understaffed, under-equipped and poorly maintained, our borders and border posts have become easy pickings for those who want to enter our country illegally, or conduct illegal activities on both sides of the border. And it is mostly poor South Africans, and not the rich and powerful in government, who bear the brunt of this problem.

"It is poor South Africans who are targeted by the cross-border drugs trade. It is poor South Africans who fall victim to human trafficking syndicates. 

"It is poor South Africans who have to face increased competition for healthcare, education and housing resources. And it is poor South Africans whose lives are most affected when we lose precious tax revenue to illicit trade and smuggling."

Maimane said when the DA makes the call for more secure borders and better documentation of all people entering our country, it is because "we are acting in the interest of those who are most affected: poor South Africans".

The DA leader said no country in the world can afford to turn a blind eye to the comings and goings across its borders. 

"Yet our government has allowed the situation here to deteriorate to the point where some stretches of our land borders are a complete free-for-all," said Maimane.

"The fact is, the ANC government does not care what happens to ordinary South Africans when it neglects to do its duty. It only cares about itself. The ANC government has neither the plan nor the desire to fix our border fences, bolster our border posts and reform home affairs."

He said the DA, on the other hand, has a comprehensive plan to immediately plug our porous borders and reform the home affairs department to rid it of its debilitating corruption and incompetence.

"If the old ANC government won’t fix it, then the new DA government will. Our plan includes auditing, properly recording and, where appropriate, regularising all undocumented foreign nationals already in the country," said Maimane.

"We will make legal entry and residence easier for skilled immigrants and businesses from all countries, especially from within Africa. We will also help South Africans to travel and do business, and we will assist those wanting to live, work and trade in South Africa legally."

Maimane sad the DA plan also includes assistance and support for asylum seekers and the protection of refugees and those who have been trafficked across our borders.

"We will review the number and size of border posts to increase the number of points of legal entry and exit, and we will ensure effective and coordinated border security through increased policing capacity at our border posts and along our borders.

"We will also increase the15 SANDF companies protecting South Africa’s borders to the required 22 companies, and ensure that they are properly resourced and trained."

Maimane said these were some of the steps a DA government will take to ensure that South Africans are kept safe, and their interests protected. 

"I urge you to read our manifesto to get the full plan for our borders, as well as our plan to clean up home affairs," said the DA leader.

African News Agency (ANA)