By GUNDO MUNYAI
*THE Oppenheimer’s VIP Terminal at OR Tambo operates on a National Key Point on which Denel – a strategic state asset that operates within the defense systems, weaponry, and military – is based. The Oppenheimers want a hassle-free gateway that puts this country’s security at risk of illicit diamonds, drug, and human trafficking. For Denel, the risk to personnel, material, information, secrets, and espionage is real. But who cares? These are the Oppenheimers…
MISSING from the debate and sadly from yesterday’s Parliament’s engagement with the Oppenheimers on their VIP terminal at Oliver Tambo International Airport is the fundamental question of national sovereignty – what it means and who has ultimate control over borders and immigration. Missing too from the “Oppenheimers briefing Parliament” session were policy frameworks that guide government in its partnerships with private contractors in migration control, not to mention the absence of operational agreements which include who pays for what service, how much and how those amounts were derived.
Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies.
Sovereignty is the most extensive form of jurisdiction under international law. In general terms, it denotes full and unchallengeable power over a piece of territory and all the persons from time to time therein.
Immigration control has traditionally been viewed as an inalienable sovereign function of the state and the question that arises is why South Africa would want to outsource its duty to control and safeguard its borders to private consultants, the Oppenheimers no less.
The Oppenheimers are South Africa’s wealthiest family having made their ill-gotten money off the blood of Africans here and surrounding countries in diamond mines. They have benefited from apartheid policy of land dispossession, segregation and exploitation….Watch this video for a view into the Oppenheimer Empire
But they want more…an international entry point into South Africa for the rich that puts this country at risk of illicit diamonds, human trafficking, armaments, drugs and much more…And guess what? They are operating on a National Key Point but they are Oppenheimers you see, they can capture a country’s borders and there’s no uproar from the media or any of our modern-day moralists and anti-state capture activists.
After a legal battle between Fireblade (the Oppenheimer business), Denel and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), a judge gave the VIP terminal the go-ahead earlier this year. Denel, from whom Fireblade leases space for its 7-star operation, had consistently objected to the application on the basis that the terminal was on a National Key Point and had not complied with the security measures stipulated for National Key Point.
Denel had argued that as a strategic state asset that operates within the defense systems, weaponry, and military-related projects, both nationally and internationally, Fireblade’s non-compliance to security measures posed a “security risk to personnel, material, information, secrets, and espionage are real and serious”.
At issue for Denel was Fireblade’s noncompliance with security measures stipulated for a National Key Point. It objected to the application on the basis of “security concerns” which it said included the risk of drug and human trafficking and illicit smuggling of material such as money, precious metals, and weaponry.
The Oppenheimers claim, and the courts agreed with them, that Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba approved the operation and later reneged. What remains unspoken of is the issue of sovereignty and the ambit of the state as the sole manager of immigration and border control and how this ANC government has outsourced that to the Oppenheimers as it has with all the other basic services that it has commodified and put in the hands of private contractors.
As it turns out, there are major problems with the Fireblade/SA government partnership.
For starters, there has been no legal framework on which it is governed despite the many years Fireblade has operated on the domestic level and the court ruling that extended the service to an international port of entry at the beginning of the year
There are several government departments providing services for the Oppenheimer operation but none have a formal agreement and with the exception of DHA, are not being paid. These include State Security, Department of Home Affairs, South African Revenue Services (SARS), and others and it emerged that the DHA is paid a pitiful amount of R117,000
Line departments currently have to divert staff from OR Tambo International Airport to the private terminal when required. This happens despite the shortage of human capital to service high volumes at OR Tambo. firstname.lastname@example.org