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‘This country was built on the backs of migrants’ – Mashaba lays out ActionSA’s plan to ‘fix SA’


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‘This country was built on the backs of migrants’ – Mashaba lays out ActionSA’s plan to ‘fix SA’

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba

3rd April 2024

By: Sashnee Moodley
Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia


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Following the launch of his party’s 2024 election manifesto last month, ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba sat down with Polity, setting out the party’s blueprint to “fix SA” and reiterating that he is unapologetic about his stance on illegal immigration.

He said he could not understand why people would want to allow non-nationals to arrive in South Africa, undocumented.


“This country was built on the backs of migrants and we must continue doing this. We must have red carpets for people of the world to come here, to come and invest, to come and holiday, to come and live here but they must come here legally and when they are here they must respect the laws of our country, anything outside that is unacceptable. You come into our country illegally, you commit crime, we will not hesitate to send you back to your country after serving a term in jail,” Mashaba stated.

If ActionSA is given the mandate to govern, Mashaba has promised that upon birth, children will be issued with a birth certificate, youth that turn 16 will be issued with an identity document and upon a person’s death, a death certificate will be issued.


“We are unapologetic about this. I think I have been very clear from the 1 December 2016 when I was the mayor of the City of Johannesburg. I don’t want to live in a country where there is one undocumented South African,” he said.


When asked about how the party would implement its policies in a coalition government, Mashaba said, “We accept that SA has entered an era of coalitions, that means compromise. You leave your arrogance out and look at the bigger picture.”

He believes the African National Congress (ANC) will not garner 50% support in the upcoming May election.

As a result, he believes coalitions will come into play and is urging South Africans to give ActionSA the mandate to govern.

“South Africans can trust ActionSA; under our leadership, we’ve got an experienced leader who respects other political leaders. It is for that reason we are asking South Africans, make us the biggest party in the event we don’t get an outright majority, so that we can lead this coalition because we understand that under a coalition arrangement we will not really be able to implement all our policies. We’ve got to accommodate all other parties so that it’s a coalition arrangement that works for South Africa and not one political party,” he said.


Mashaba stressed the need to professionalise flailing State-owned power utility Eskom, and to allow private sector participation and competition in the energy sector.

He touted the idea of regional grids, telling the success story of a municipality in the Free State.

He said this story should be used as a template for the rest of the country, where municipalities could produce their own energy and take the strain off Eskom.

“Eskom must immediately run on a commercial basis. And allow private sector competition in competing with [it],” he stressed.  

Meanwhile, ActionSA wants South Africans to be less dependent on government grants, with a plan to create more jobs to allow people a more sustainable and constant means of income.

The party has done a study showing that 4.8-million jobs could allegedly be created in the first five years of its rule, by stimulating the economy and being tougher on crime.

“I have a sense that this ANC government wants to keep black people poor and dependent on the State. Deal with labour, revise our draconian labour laws, free them to make sure that people can employ those who want to work. All those factories that are closed, give them to the private sector to employ our people and those that want to work. As ActionSA we are prepared in the first few years to assist those who need help with a stimulus. But what we want South Africans to judge us on is how many people we will take off government dependence,” Mashaba said.


ActionSA’s reforms for policing include ethical leaders for the head of police, as well as training for officers. Mashaba stressed the need for specialised units, calling for a version of the Scorpions to return.

“We want the women in this country, all South Africans, to walk the streets at any time of day without fearing another human being. That’s why we are saying all these heinous crimes – murder, corruption, drug dealers, rapists – no parole for them. We will have specialised courts to deal with these cases and within the first five years [of taking office] we will have 24-hour courts operating. All those retired people in the legal profession, we want to bring them back,” Mashaba explained.

He said those sentenced for corruption should have a minimum sentence of 15 years, without parole.

He laid out his plans to make prisoners work for society on farms and in other areas.

“We are not going to have prisoners forming gangs during the day, after being sentenced. There’s not going to be television. On a Monday to Friday from 8 o’ clock to 5 o’clock we don’t want to see any prisoner in the cells, they must be out there in the farms working to pay back to society and providing for their own accommodation,” he said.


ActionSA wants to see one department for the education ministry, with school principals appointed by government, after consultation with the communities in which they serve. Mashaba stressed that unions would not play a part in this process.

Under an ActionSA government, school inspectors will be brought into the fold and the minimum pass rate will be brought up to 50%.

Mashaba also stressed the need for credited early childhood development centres, to kickstart the schooling careers of children.


Going over the rest of ActionSA’s manifesto, Mashaba set out the “non-negotiable” values of the party, for anybody thinking of joining.

He touted a non-racial South Africa, a free market economy, social justice, the rule of law, quality education and ethical leadership.

Under a free market economy, as the government of the day, ActionSA plans to create a conducive environment to allow the private sector to drive the economy.

Discussing social justice, Mashaba said, “I don’t want to live side by side with poverty”, calling it a man-made phenomenon. He said the poor needed to be uplifted and called on  “privileged” people to help make this a reality.

“If you want to be a member of ActionSA, if you want to be a member of the public service, please put the interest of society ahead of your own stomach. [These are our] values, we stand by them. Anyone joining ActionSA, not believing in this value system, our constitution allows us to get rid of you before you enter the door,” he said.


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