A small but enthusiastic crowd turned up at a rally to support a comeback by former South African president Jacob Zuma, barred by the constiutition from standing again

Minister of Home Affairs of South Africa Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday said that Cabinet has approved the Final White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection.

"The Department of Home Affairs carefully and duly considered all the oral and written submissions. This final White Paper is the product of robust engagements," the minister said during a media briefing, SA News reported.

He noted that the Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa approved this final White Paper last week April 10 but it was published in the Government Gazette on April 17 (Wednesday). Motsoaledi said that the department got an "overwhelming" response when they asked the public to share their feedback.

The minister noted that the responses were gathered from citizens, asylum seekers and refugees as well as public interest groups, companies, national and local government departments, premiers, research institutes, political parties, international bodies and many others.

"The [department's] team and I conducted public hearings in all nine provinces. The outcome of the engagements and public comments is that the policy position adopted in the White Paper enjoys wide support," he said.

He added, "Only a handful of public interest groups are opposed to selected policy positions such as the withdrawal of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the 1967 Protocol and re-acceding to them with reservations, the proposed repeal of Section 4 (3) of the South African Citizenship Act and the First Safe Country principle."

Motsoaledi explained that the White Paper allows the government to make reservations on some elements of the agreements.

In 1996, two years after the first democratic elections, South Africa agreed to several international agreements like the 1951 Convention, the 1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU (Organization of African Unity} Convention and other international treaties.

However, at that time, the government hadn't formed a clear policy on migration, including refugee protection. The government didn't utilize the reservations and exceptions allowed by international law.

The minister said that the "white paper proposes that the government of the Republic of South Africa must review and/or withdraw from the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol with a view to accede to them with reservations like many countries did."

Motsoaledi explained the South African government wants to use this White Paper to utilize its right, as granted in Article 42 of the 1951 Convention and Article 7 of the 1967 Protocol, to make reservations accordingly.