The Department of Home Affairs is working on a number of changes to South Africa’s visa regime, they say: “…in an effort to make the country more accessible for visitors, investors and people with skills that are critical to building the economy”. This is not a joke, they actually said that while very well aware of the fact that the missions abroad do everything possible to reject visa applications for foreign investors. Leader of the “Rejection Pack” is the South African Embassy in Berlin (Germany), where potent investors are constantly fed wrong requirements either until they give up or all recourse is exhausted.
They are closely followed by Budapest (Hungary), Vienna (Austria) and Sofia (Rumania), who all still act under the direct instructions given by former Minister Gigaba to reduce the influx of foreigners by finding and inventing any possible reason to reject applications, which was disclosed by Embassy Staff Members during the recent Roadshows of Into SA to Europe.
But at the monthly Presidential Working Committee on Monday (7 October), Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi even went one step further pulling the wool over the eyes of the non-suspecting public and stated that “… his department has lowered turnaround times for critical work skills visas, which are now issued within four weeks in 88.5% of applications. By comparison, business and general work visas are issued within eight weeks in 98% of applications”. He couldn’t be more wrong as he himself and his “acting” Director General Thulani Mavuso are sitting for almost nine months preventing the Austrian Head Engineer for a 6 Billion Rand Investment into SAPPI and MONDI in KwaZulu Natal. Beside the consequences for possible subcontractors in South Africa, which would generate a significant number of employment positions, they are even oblivious to the fact that they are in violation of the South African constitution by denying him the entry to South Africa to visit his South African wife.
Over and above the figures he tries to make the public belief are maybe true, but he forgot to mention that for the preparation of a General Work Visa Home Affairs expects a letter issued by the Department of Labour to confirm the eligibility of the candidate in the specific employment space. Now to obtain that letter will take you between 6 and 12 months, by which time the investment is gone and so are the work opportunities. Goal achieved, foreigner prevented!
He further announced that “ …in November, the Department of Home Affairs will embark on a pilot scheme for the issuing of e-visas, which applicants will be able to access online, eliminating the need for applicants to visit South African missions abroad and the department has also located visa services within the offices of various investment facilitation agencies around the country.” Minister, we still wait to see those facilities to actually work, so far we can only see White Elephants with posh furniture and endless empty boardrooms….
“In addition, visa requirements have been simplified for countries such as China and India, which are key markets for tourism to South Africa,” he said, but forgot to mention that tourism is only one of many areas of revenue for South Africa, while the sectors mining, manufacturing, import and export as well as construction constitute the majority of the GDP. But for those visitors the doors are iron-clad and the proverbial, government-appointed Cerberus sits in the Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates and welcomes investors from all over the world with a fiery breath rather than a welcoming hug!