The blame game on xenophobia may have taken the centre stage between the Department of Home Affairs and Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, going by the proverbial saying that when two elephant fights, the grass suffers.The Department  have taken a cold and unsolicited swipe on the Mayor.

The Department said he should not use the lives of people as a public relations exercise.

The spat comes as the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs deliberates on the Refugees Amendment Bill and the consideration and approval of amendments to the Border Management Authority Bill.

Mayor Mashaba accused the department of not addressing the underlying cause of xenophobia.

The department said it had met Mashaba and “asked him to pull back” during the process of amending the bills. “We invited him to make submissions on the bills but we haven’t heard from his office. If he want wants to defuse the situation he should be championing these [bills]‚” said Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete.

Mashaba’s office released a statement on Monday accusing the minister of home affairs of not doing enough to curb migration and issues around xenophobia.

“Acts of xenophobia are [a] long-standing and deep-rooted problem which national government has only sought to pay lip-service to rather than admitting to and addressing its underlying cause‚” Mashaba’s statement said.

“My door remains open to interactions with the minister‚ and national government as a whole‚ towards finding a solution to xenophobic attacks and issues relating to migration within communities‚” Mashaba said.

Tshwete criticised a claim by Mashaba that the department had refused to meet the City of Johannesburg over xenophobia.

“We can’t be meeting the mayor every two weeks.” A technical team was working on the matter and the department’s director-general of migration had been made available to help with anything the needed‚ Tshwete said.

“What the mayor is trying to do is shift attention from his Afro-phobic utterances‚” said Tshwete.