180 degree turn by Gigaba: New Immigration Rules to be introduced

Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, surprised yesterday when announcing new visa rules to come, easing the access to South Africa for skilled workers, reverse some of the documentation required for travelling children and implementing negotiations with other countries for visa-free access to South Africa.

Has Playboy Gigaba turned from Saulus to Paulus? Surely not! His hand had to be forced by President Ramaphosa to contribute to the government’s efforts to stimulate economy and to stop boycotting Tourism and Businesses in need of critical skills. We all need to remember that it was Gigaba, who introduced insane conditions for travelling children and thereby costing the tourism sector billions of Rand in revenue, only justified by his god-complex paired with ignorance and “justified” by fabricated annual child trafficking figures (Into SA reported in 2015!).

In light of the current (technical) recession, South Africa has no choice but to ease some immigration rules, including agreeing visa waiver agreements with more countries, in an effort to boost investment and tourism. The changes are part of the broader economic turnaround programme announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week as his team seeks to drag Africa’s most developed economy out of recession, not that Gigaba understands a word of Ramaphosa’s plan…. He is instead following the President’s finger like a lemming and tries to conclude visa waiver agreements with more than a dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sao Tome & Principe, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran, Lebanon, Kuwait and Cuba. Looking at the list of those countries makes clear that he has no plan except what to do best: looking for former allies and not for potential business enhancing countries as “nepotism” is the only policy-type he understands and which policy is the only reason he is in office.

It took an ignorant Gigaba over three years (!) to now simplify the much-criticized rules for traveling minors which hurt the tourism sector so much, again his hand is forced and is not agreement that now leads to lesser documentation requirements for minors. Pure lip-service had Gigaba make the following statement yesterday: “We play a critical economic role in admitting over 10 million international visitors to South Africa annually, which includes tourists, business travelers, investors and neighbours! Millions of jobs are sustained by the economic activity generated by these travelers.” … One wants to choke when remembering that this was told to him over and over and now he repeats it as it was his own…. we have seen parrots doing a more convincing job!

“Minister” Gigaba continued by stating that “… by allowing inward migration of skilled workers such as investors, doctors, researchers and others through our visa and permit regime would boost our national development. Our task is to make entry into South Africa for these visitors as easy as possible, while guarding against the risks posed by the minority of travellers who do not abide by our laws, those who overstay, and persons associated with transnational threats such as organised crime, human trafficking and terrorism.” He stated the obvious, the vision and mission of every country’s border-control in the world, but made it sound that he had discovered a secret policy!?

We are cringing already as in our daily immigration practice the work with skilled workers seeking Critical Skills Work Visa can easily turn lengthy as one needs to register and confirm skills of the worker through SAQA and the “respective professional body” in charge of any of the shortage occupations published by Gigaba in 2015. Gigaba never thought the consequences through, burdening professional Bodies, SAQA and even the Department of labour with additional tasks that they were never asked to do, nor have budgets for. If he is now “reviewing” the shortage occupation list we must fear the worst: we will most likely see the “Corporate Managers” disappear from the list as the embassies have already started – on instruction by Gigaba – to handle those application restrictively and not to grant permanent residence based on this occupation, 100% _contra lege_. The category of “Corporate Managers” was the last one enabling multi-national concerns investing into South Africa having their credit controller, financial manager or expansion director residing in South Africa and overseeing the financial aspect of the investment. Should this fall away, so shall the intended investments…

For the hundredth time, Gigaba announced long-term visitors visa and visa with multiple entry for up to 10 years (but maybe only for African Professionals?)….we have heard that so many times without seeing any implementation that we can only comment with another “yawn.”

We will report once the new regulations are gazetted and will scrutinise the new rules. Please see also our next newsletter “eBRIEF” to deal with this topic.

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