Archive from May, 2013
May 19, 2013 - General    No Comments

Home Affairs defends decision to grant asylum to war crimes suspect

Home Affairs defends decision to grant asylum to war crimes suspect
by Ernest Mabuza – Business Day Live, 17 May 2013, 18:10

THE Department of Home Affairs had taken all factors, including South Africa’s international obligations, into account in granting suspected Rwandan war criminal Faustin Nyamwasa war refugee status, the department says.
Mr Nyamwasa — an active member of the Rwandan armed forces between 1990 and 1994 — has been implicated in a number of reports in the commissioning of grave violations in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He fled Rwanda in 2010 after his relationship with President Paul Kagame became strained. His presence in South Africa came to light after he was reported to have survived what appeared to be an assassination attempt in the same year.
In May 2011, refugee lobby group the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa) applied to the court to set aside the decision to grant Mr Nyamwasa refugee status, saying it had reason to believe Mr Nyamwasa had committed crimes against humanity.
The decision to grant Mr Nyamwasa refugee status was thus in violation of the Refugees Act, which states that a person does not qualify for refugee status if there is reason to believe that the person has committed a crime against peace, a war crime or a crime against humanity, said Cormsa at the time.
On Friday, counsel for the department Marumo Moerane SC, told the South Gauteng High Court that department was aware of the allegations levelled in the media against Mr Nyamwasa, as well as the responses by Mr Nyamwasa to those allegations, when it considered his application for asylum, and took an informed decision based on the information.
“At the time (Mr Nyamwasa) and his wife were granted asylum, the refugee status determination officer was aware of unsubstantiated allegations that he was involved in war crimes. The refugee status determination officer concluded there were conflicting reports,” said Mr Moerane.
He said the case currently before the court was about the lobby group wishing to determine that Mr Nyamwasa remain and reside in South Africa, according to terms and conditions stipulated by the group and not by the government of South Africa.
“(Corma) concedes that Mr Nyamwasa has a well-founded fear of being prosecuted in Rwanda because of his opposition to the current government in Rwanda and is unwilling to return to Rwanda.
“Cormsa concedes that, in terms of the Constitution, the law and South African international obligations regarding refugees, the South African government cannot extradite (Mr Nyamwasa) to Rwanda,” Mr Moerane said.
He said Mr Nyamwasa, his wife and children were granted refugee status after all considerations were taken into account.
Mr Moerane refused to divulge information contained in the application for asylum by Mr Nyamwasa because of section 21(5) of the Refugees Act, which stipulates that confidentiality of asylum applications must be ensured at all times.
Mr Moerane said the lobby group did not have standing to bring this application and that the constitution of the lobby group stated that its purpose was to promote the human rights of asylum seekers.
“Our submission is that this case has nothing to do with the human rights of asylum seekers, refugees and other international migrants.
“This case concerns one asylum seeker or refugee who has been granted that status and the application has nothing to so with the promotion of his human rights or for that matter human rights of other asylum seekers, refugees and migrants,” Mr Moerane said.
However, Anton Katz SC, for Cormsa, said war criminals should be excluded from the benefits of asylum on principle. South Africa would be in breach of its international obligations if it granted Mr Nyamwasa refugee status, said Mr Katz.
He said the only issue to be decided by the court was whether the department followed proper process and whether there was compliance with the law when Mr Nyamwasa was granted refugee status.
Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi reserved judgment.

SA’s rigid immigration regime to undergo sweeping changes

SA’s rigid immigration regime to undergo sweeping changes
Business Day : by Wyndham Hartley, 10 May 2013, 08:22
HOME Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor has promised sweeping changes to South Africa’s immigration regime to make it easier for foreign businesses and investors to come to the country and to improve competitiveness in the global skills market. The existing immigration situation is frequently criticised as being too restrictive, and in effect a disincentive to foreign businesses.
South Africa also suffers each year from a net loss of skills as qualified people emigrate to other countries.
Introducing her budget vote in an extended public committee of the National Assembly on Thursday, Ms Pandor said South Africa should provide clearer guidance about the numbers and skills needed, and “we want those with the right skills to come here: the investors and the entrepreneurs who will create the businesses and the jobs of tomorrow, and the scientists who will help keep South Africa at the heart of the great advances in medicine, biotech, advanced manufacturing and communications. They merit a permit policy that shows we are ready to compete with other countries for global talent.
“In regard to business, we’ve increased the opportunities for foreign investors and entrepreneurs — 1,346 visas were issued to entrepreneurs in 2011. We are on track to issue more than we did last year. We also plan to increase efficiency in issuing permits to investors in South Africa. Currently we issue waivers for employees of many multinational corporations. We have had many complaints about delays in issuing permits — we are addressing these concerns. I’m aware that some companies prefer to use staff from their overseas headquarters in their South African branches.
“Government has an obligation to promote job creation and skills development for South Africans. Our immigration system must help us to respond to this challenge while also welcoming investment.”
She said the target for attracting scarce skills had been 50,000 permits issued in 2011 but that only about 20,000 were issued and that the Immigration Advisory Board would look into this area again. “We are finalising the regulations for the 2011 Immigration Amendment Act.
“They will streamline the process of scientists applying for work permits. The Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Higher Education will assist us in reducing the bottlenecks being experienced in evaluating visa and permit requests for scientists and researchers.
“If we manage immigration competently, we can attract critical skills to expand the economy and promote trade and investment for job creation and development.
“We have to compete globally to attract the best and the brightest to work with us in building a better South Africa in a better Africa,” Ms Pandor said.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister Fatima Chohan reported to the House on a reduction in the numbers of asylum seekers entering the country.
“In our reception centres, our efforts have in large measure been focused on improving efficiencies in dealing with applications for asylum,” she said. “In this regard, we have been mindful that genuine asylum seekers were not best served by the prolonged periods that they had to endure while their matters were adjudicated.
“We implemented a fast-track system, first at the Durban refugee reception centre, and are doing likewise in Musina and Pretoria. Our preliminary findings indicate positive trends in that the number of asylum seeker applications has decreased quite dramatically, particularly at the Durban centre.
“We are pleased to announce an overall decrease in the number of asylum seekers who have come into our centres throughout the country. In 2010, we received a total of (185,918) applications for asylum. In 2011, this figure dropped to 87,020 applications and last year the figure reduced further to 85,058,” Ms Chohan said.

May 9, 2013 - General, Visa    No Comments

SA voted top dream destination

SA voted top dream destination
2013-05-09 14:56
SA in WAYN’s top 7 Dream Destinations
WAYN, the world’s largest travel and lifestyle social network, has just revealed the top seven dream destinations in the world as chosen by its 21 million users and South Africa is one of them!
London – South Africa has beaten six other sought after world destinations to take the coveted top spot in travel-related social network, Wayn’s recent dream destination competition.
Up against six other sought after destinations – Brazil, India, Dubai, Fiji, Turkey and Indonesia – South Africa managed to garner more than 15 300 votes from all over the world.
Brazil scooped up the second position, while Dubai came in at a very close third.
Jerome Touze, co-founder and CRO of WAYN said: “All seven countries and cities nominated were extremely worthy contenders and dream destinations in their own right. The immense popularity of South Africa as a tourist destination has been reinforced by this competition, and interestingly the activity we are seeing correlates with the recent announcement by President Jaco Zuma that the amount of foreign visitors to South Africa has grown by 300% to 13.5 million visitors, 9.2 million of which were tourists.
It is also fascinating to note the strong interest coming from Asia, and particular India, which is one of South Africa’s BRICS partners. Out of the 408,000 fans of South Africa on WAYN, there are now over 108,000 fans from India alone”
In total 78 000 votes were counted for all seven of the destinations. The nominated destinations, both cities and countries, were selected through a combination of market research data and tracking user engagement on WAYN.com. WAYN built an exclusive microsite for the competition and offered members who voted the chance to win an iPad.
Touze added “We are delighted by the phenomenal response from our members, the total number of people who voted exceeded our expectations and offers invaluable intel on where our members want to go. We are planning to build on the success of this campaign over the next year by offering more leading award recognitions for the travel and tourism industry”
Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer, South African Tourism said: “We are privileged to live in an incredible country, a land of spectacular wildlife, awe-inspiring adventure and unique heritage and culture. It is home to warm, welcoming people, eager to share it with travellers from around the world. We are already touched by the hundreds of thousands of friends our destination has made on the WAYN.com platform and we are delighted with this accolade, which we hope will make more people’s dreams of visiting South Africa a reality.”

Address by Minister of Home Affairs, Naledi Pandor MP, opening the Department of Home Affair’s Budget Vote debate, 9 May 2013

Address by Minister of Home Affairs, Naledi Pandor MP, opening the Department of Home Affair’s Budget Vote debate, 9 May 2013
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Published: 09 May 2013
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Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee Maggie Maunye
Honourable members of the National Assembly
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan
Ministers who are new to a portfolio are often tempted to develop new policy, amend legislation and create a personal history. This is hazardous especially in the third year of a term of government. The policies and objectives of the department are our mandate and our focus.
Our priorities are the following.
• To register all births within 30 days of birth.
• Ensure all 16 year olds apply for and receive IDs.
• Enhance security by creating a reliable National Population Register that is supported by modern technology and effective administration.
• Ensuring we have ports of entry that are modern, secure, efficient and reliable.
• Administering our immigration policy in a manner that supports national priorities of skills acquisition, job creation and inclusive growth.
• Meeting our international obligations with respect to asylum seekers and refugees and thus promoting human dignity and respect for all persons.
• Supporting our national security in collaboration with the security cluster.

The budget speech takes place against the backdrop of the 19th celebration of the dawn of peace, freedom and democracy and the 50th anniversary of the formation of the OAU.
Whenever we debate our progress, we should remember that the freedom we celebrate is a consequence of the sacrifice and heroism of the many millions who contributed to ending the scourge of apartheid. Our work today responds to both the legacy of apartheid and the opportunities that result from freedom.
Since 1994 our ANC government has worked hard to ensure Home Affairs restores dignity to all, creates systems for a secure identity, and promotes international friendships. We have also played a full role in supporting government to achieve the outcomes and policies adopted in 2009.
I turn now to our budget. The budget of the Department of Home Affairs is set at R6,7 billion for 2013/14.
• Departmental programmes receive R4,8 billion.
• The Film and Publication Board will receive R82 million.
• The Electoral Commission will receive R1,6 billion.
• the Government Printing Works R134 million

National Population Registration Campaign
The NPR campaign is directed at creating a secure South African citizenship database and secure identity. We will have succeeded when we have birth registration as the only point of entry to our NPR.
Our priority is to register children within 30 days of birth. We have connected hospitals and other health care centres to our database so babies can be registered at the place of birth. We registered 602 530 births in 2012 and intend to expand this number by at least 8% each year.
We will intensify our outreach campaigns to reach families in our most marginal communities and will work closely with all our stakeholder forums to popularise registration of births.
There are many who continue to be unregistered. We will continue to offer late registration of birth, but I am proposing that we stop this service in 2015.
We introduced the on-the-spot unabridged birth certificates this year, another advance in our objective of a trustworthy NPR. The certificate is secure and reliable. It carries the names and ID numbers of both parents. It will help us to eliminate fraud, multiple visits to our offices, the pain of not being able to trace your family tree and the piling up of paper documents in the department.
Some challenges have emerged from early practice – the registration of children born to foreign nationals and at times the reluctance of fathers to be registered. We will intensify communication and education and improve our systems.
The ID registration campaign, to issue IDs to all 16 year olds, will continue. Working together with the Ministry of Basic Education, stakeholder forums, the National Youth Development Agency and all youth formations we will continue to mobilise youth of 16 years and over to apply for identity documents.
We have been trying to eliminate duplicate IDs since 2009. We had over 500,000 when we began our campaign. We now believe we have just over 20,000 in circulation. We have tried to encourage holders to come forward to resolve duplicates. I intend to invalidate all duplicate IDs in December this year. All holders of duplicate IDs should approach our offices to seek assistance. We are working closely with the financial sector to smooth the inconvenience that may result from invalidation.
We are making progress with creating a paperless environment in Home Affairs. More offices use modern technology. Modernisation includes: live data capture, e-visa and permitting, the Trusted Traveller Programme, the Enhanced Electronic Movement Control System, the National Identification System (NIS) with biometric features, and the smart ID card. In 2012/13 we allocated R214 million to IT modernisation; this year over R348 million will be invested in the work.
We are working hard to ensure we are able to issue the smart ID card in a phased implementation from the third quarter (July-September).
We will begin issuing the Smart Card from 27 Home Affairs regional offices that have been provided with the capacity for live capture. Over the next three years, we will install live capture in all our offices. This will enable the department to issue smart ID cards to all South African citizens over the next five to seven years and to finally get rid of the green ID book. This will be a major step towards creating a reliable National Population Register.
Managing immigration competently
Immigration is one of our expanding service areas. According to the World Bank migration and remittances unit, in 2010 there were 1.9 million immigrants living in South Africa – about 3.7% of the population, notably from Zimbabwe (859,000), Mozambique (455,000) and Lesotho (351,000). At the same time 878,000 South Africans lived overseas, particularly in the UK (226,000), Mozambique (155,000) and Australia (133,000). Immigrants remitted $720 million out of SA, while SA emigrants remitted $1,2 billion back into South Africa (2010). Census 2011 provides an update and estimates that around 2,7 million or 5.7% of South Africa’s 51.7 million people are foreign born.
I think it’s important to remember that global migration is not simply about people moving from one country to another. It’s also about money being transferred backwards to the country of origin. According to the World Bank, migrant remittances have tripled in volume in the last decade. A measure of its size is that remittances now dwarf global aid budgets.
I believe unreservedly that immigration needs to be administered effectively, but also that immigration into South Africa should be encouraged. We have to compete in a global market place for skills. It’s something we have not addressed as yet, but the National Development Plan has indicated that we need to do so.
As part of our strategy to attract skills we made 50,000 permits available for scarce skills, but only 20, 673 work permits were issued in 2011 (Documented immigrants in South Africa 2011 | Statistics SA) This means we have not filled our quota. We’ll be asking the Immigration Advisory Board to look into this whole area again and to reconsider whether the limit is set at the right level.
I think that we should provide clearer guidance about the numbers and the skills we need. SA is one of the most open economies in the world and we want those with the right skills to come here: the investors and the entrepreneurs who will create the businesses and the jobs of tomorrow and the scientists who will help keep SA at the heart of the great advances in medicine, biotech, advanced manufacturing and communications. They merit a permit policy that shows we are ready to compete with other countries for global talent.
It is generally acknowledged that South Africa suffers a shortage of high-level research skills, that is, individuals with doctoral degrees and several years’ research experience.
We are considering a system of four- to five-year work permits for foreigners who graduate from our universities in critical skills areas, as a means of contributing to development in our country. We also need maths and science teachers. They should be given work permits that allow schools and teachers to function in a stable environment.
We are finalising the regulations for the 2011 Immigration Amendment Act. They will streamline the process of scientists applying for work permits. The DST and the DHET will assist us in reducing the bottlenecks being experienced in evaluating visa and permit requests for scientists and researchers. The process will be similar to the ‘corporate account status’ enjoyed by some businesses.
In regard to business, we’ve increased the opportunities for foreign investors and entrepreneurs. 1,346 visas were issued to entrepreneurs in 2011. We are on track to issue more than we did last year. In future, we’ll make it easier for venture capitalists to back entrepreneurs, people who are starting small scale but may end up running the blue-chip businesses of tomorrow.
We also plan to increase efficiency in issuing permits to investors in South Africa. Currently we issue waivers for employees of many multinational corporations. We have had many complaints about delays in issuing permits – we are addressing these concerns. I’m aware that some companies prefer to use staff from their overseas headquarters in their South African branches. I wish to indicate that government has an obligation to promote job creation and skills development for South Africans. Our immigration system must help us to respond to this challenge while also welcoming investment. We will be appointing more adjudicators for our temporary and permanent residence units to ensure speedier processing of applications.
If we manage immigration competently, we can attract critical skills to expand the economy and promote trade and investment for job creation and development. We have to compete globally to attract the best and the brightest to work with us in building a better South Africa in a better Africa.
Yet globalisation also brings the risks of transnational crime and terrorism that can undermine the gains we have made under democracy. Competent management of immigration is vital for our security. We have to do more to protect our borders and our ports of entry.
I am pleased to announce that government has agreed to the phased establishment of a Border Management Agency (BMA). The Agency will ensure coordination of and co-operation among the departments operating at our points of entry and along our borders. The BMA will be led by the Department of Home Affairs and will involve SARS, SANDF, SAPS, Health and Agriculture.
Focused attention is being paid to improving the management, capacity, and infrastructure at our ports of entry. Last year over R110 million was allocated to ports of entry infrastructure via the Public Works budget. This year over R130 million is made available in the DHA budget. We have equipped a number of our ports of entry with the enhanced movement control system (EMCS) while introducing the advanced passenger processing system (APP) for airlines. These are positive developments, but we still need to do much more to ensure they work efficiently.
The changes have improved the movement of persons and goods through our ports of entry. We are now able to process millions of visitors annually.
South Africa has become a prime tourist destination and a venue of choice for hosting large international events. We are proud to have contributed to the hosting of the AU / UN African Ministers Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament, as well as the recent BRICS Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Durban. The support provided by Home Affairs was excellent.
As part of building our capacity, greater attention will be paid to asylum seekers, the recruitment of migrants with critical skills, and the flow of economic migrants from other SADC countries.
We have begun to address gaps at the level of policy and operations. The Honourable Deputy Minister, Fatima Chohan, will elaborate on our work in the processing and management of asylum seekers and refugees.
Another urgent immigration challenge is the need to recognise and efficiently regularise the flow of economic migrants, particularly from our neighbouring countries of SADC. We are working on an immigration policy paper that will set out our proposals and policy perspectives. We intend to provide for a work-seeker visa (or a similar instrument) for SADC citizens.
We also intend to work closely with the SADC countries to address the phenomenon of illegal migration into our country and region. The security risk this poses to the political and economic stability of our country and region cannot be ignored.
However, we must implement policy within the ambit of the law and the Constitution with due regard to human dignity, development and human security.
One of the priorities of the government is to act against crime, fraud and corruption. We are acting in Home Affairs. Just two days ago nine officials were arrested on suspicion of corruption. We support all efforts directed at eradicating corruption.
The departmental enforcement units, the Inspectorate and Counter Corruption, are combining efforts more effectively and working closely with other law enforcement agencies within the security cluster to act effectively against crime, fraud and corruption.
Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to meet with the top management and other officials of the department, paid visits to various Home Affairs offices across the country including some ports of entry.
As we stand on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the advent of democracy in South Africa, I believe my predecessors have laid a firm foundation for the department to make a meaningful contribution to the socio-economic development of our country while ensuring a safer and more secure management of our borders and ports of entry.
I am sure that the majority of Home Affairs officials are keen to contribute meaningfully towards the achievement of the five national priorities of our government, the mandate of Home Affairs and the objectives of the National Development Plan.
Speaker, I have not referred to the inadequacies that concern me – the poor responsiveness of our call centre, the delays in effecting changes as requested by clients, the backlogs in asylum management, permanent and temporary resident applications, and many other problems we will address as we work with the DG and his team to create a fully responsive and efficient DHA.
In closing, I wish to thank the Deputy Minister for the always comradely support, intelligent counsel and lots of sms text. Thanks to our DG for his hard work and support. Thank you for the assistance you have given to me. And thanks to the executive team. I am grateful for the advice and gentle guidance of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Honourable Maggie Maunye, and members of the Committee for their commitment and hard work. I hope all members will support our budget for the 2013/2014 financial year. Working together we can do more to contribute to the creation of a better life for all South Africans

May 9, 2013 - General    No Comments

Budget vote media statement by Naledi Pandor MP, Minister of Home Affairs

Budget vote media statement by Naledi Pandor MP, Minister of Home Affairs Imbizo Media Centre, 120 Plein Street, Cape Town, Thursday, 9 May 2013
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Published: 09 May 2013
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Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to be with us for this briefing ahead of our Budget Vote at 14h00.
As you know, Budget Votes are for Departments to account to Parliament about how they spent the public money allocated in the previous financial year as well as how they intend to use their financial disbursement in the year ahead.
In this regard, the Department of Home Affairs was allocated R6,7 billion for the 2013/14 financial year (R5,3 billion for the 2012/13 financial year).

National Population Registration Campaign
The National Population Registration Campaign drives our objective to secure and protect South African citizenship and identity.
To achieve this, the Department has prioritised the registration of babies within 30 days of birth. We will also be able to share this information with the broader government so that various departments are able to plan services accurately.
We have connected hospitals, clinics and other health care centres to the Department’s database. We will increase the reach of these services by adding online birth registration facilities in 40 health institutions. Through such initiatives we have seen the number of babies registered within 30 days increasing by 6% from 556 762 to 602 530 in the past year.
In the current financial year we will improve on our efforts to build the National Population Register by ensuring that all 16 year olds apply for and receive IDs.
An ID is a crucial document that enables you access to a range of services and opportunities. In 2014 it will be even more important as it will ensure that all eligible South Africans are able to cast their ballots in the country’s 5th national democratic elections.

Duplicate IDs
The Department has since 2009 been engaged in a process of cleaning up its National Population Register and this included removing duplicate ID numbers. Having begun with almost half a million such cases, we now have only 20,000 cases left.
Today we will inform the National Assembly that we will invalidate duplicate IDs by December 2013.

Late Registration of Birth
Registering a South African national after 30 days of birth is referred to as the late registration of birth. One of the challenges we deal with on a daily basis is registering the births of adults who were not registered as babies and therefore do not have birth certificates. We will bring this process to an end by the 2015/16 financial year.

Bringing quality services to the people
The Department is committed to bringing quality services closer to the people and to increasing our rural footprint.
This year we aim to refurbish 23 offices around the country.
We have begun a process of modernising the Department’s technological infrastructure to ensure that systems are coherent while enabling real-time access to information. This will have the added benefit of ensuring we deal with fraud and corruption because we will be able to see immediately if someone is a repeat applicant for a service that has been denied.

Asylum-seeker applications – better management
We are pleased to report to Parliament that we have seen a sharp decrease in the number of asylum seeker applications. In 2009 we received 341,000 applications for asylum. This year we received 85 058 applications.
In the year ahead, the Department will improve its management of asylum seekers. We will be introducing a new high security form on which permits issued to asylum seekers will be printed.
We will also conclude the process of consultation with our SADC counterparts on a regional approach to the management of asylum seekers and refugees as well as economic migrants. This will entail the introduction of a SADC work-seeker permit.

Cessation of Refugee Status for Angolan refugees
We will implement a decision by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to bring to an end the process of granting refugee status to Angolan nationals. The civil war ended 11 years ago and Angola is on its way to taking its rightful place in the African and global family of nations.

Smart ID card
The Department will introduce the first smart identity document (ID) card to all first-time ID and re-issue applicants in the second quarter of this current financial year. It is a contactless card containing a microchip embedded with biometric security features. It has a life span of at least 10 years.

In conclusion
We are working towards achieving an unqualified audit from the Auditor-General for the 2014/15 financial year.
I thank you.

May 9, 2013 - General, Work Permit    No Comments

Skills shortage hampers business – survey

Skills shortage hampers business – survey
May 09 2013 12:06 Sapa

Johannesburg – A shortage of key skills is affecting business growth and requires government intervention, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently found in an international survey of business leaders.
“Businesses are struggling with a widening mismatch between the skills of their workforce and the skills they need to achieve strong growth,” PwC human resource services director Gerald Seegers said in a statement.
“There needs to be a joint approach to addressing the problem, with businesses and governments working together to plug the skills gap.”
While more than half of the 1300 chief executives surveyed globally found the skills shortage a problem, 82% of African business leaders identified it as threatening their potential for growth.
In South Africa, the level of concern declined from 84% in 2011 to 71% last year.
The research showed that mining, energy, engineering and construction companies experienced the most chronic shortage of skilled employees.
South African chief executives were more positive than their global counterparts about the effectiveness of leadership development in their companies.
Almost 90% regarded programmes to encourage diversity among business leaders and to involve managers below board level in strategic decision-making as most effective.
Nearly 60% of those surveyed said governments needed to prioritise creating and encouraging a skilled workforce in the year ahead.
Almost two-thirds of the business leaders regarded rising tax burdens as a threat their business growth.
“The most successful companies will combine recruitment with developing the people they already have,” Seegers said.
“Those with a balanced approach to growing their own talent and buying in key skills are most likely to succeed.”

Address to the National Assembly by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs on the occasion of the Budget Debate on the 9 May 2013

Address to the National Assembly by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs on the occasion of the Budget Debate on the 9 May 2013
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Published: 09 May 2013
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Hon Members,
I rise to support the Minister in her address to this chamber today, and will in my address concern myself with the issue of Asylum Seeker Management, Legal Services and the work of the Films and Publications Board.
ASYLUM SEEKERS
Some of you may know that the Iziko Museum is hosting a wonderful exhibition on the life of the late great Oliver Tambo, those of you who have not been to view this exhibition should do yourselves a favour and do so. It documents the life and times of one of our foremost leaders who spent over thirty years of his life as a refugee. It is in a nutshell our commitment to make our system of asylum management better able to meet the needs of genuine refugees and to prevent and eventually to eradicate the abuse of the refugee regime mainly by unskilled work seekers, but also elements that mean harm to our country and people.
The Minister has mentioned in her speech some of the plans in regard to SADC nationals and this will certainly allow for better management of immigrants from these countries and free up capacity in the ASM system which can be directed to better service and integrate genuine refugees. This is the longer term vision and in the coming year, we will concentrate on developing better synergy between the RSDO’s the RAB and SCRA processes. In our ongoing efforts to curb rampant bribery and corruption in our refugee centers, we will introduce new high security permits for refugees or asylum seekers. Permits will be printed on paper manufactured only for the Department and will contain a series of security features such as barcodes and a watermark. Any attempt to tamper with personalized details on such a permit will discolor the document.
We will introduce a track and trace capability to monitor the processing of asylum seeker applications at all our centers. This will give applicants information on their cellphones and keep them abreast of the progress made in processing their applications. It will also facilitate good management practices and give managers immediate access to information on backlogs and other data.
Coming now to what we are able to report as our achievements in the last twelve months: Firstly, we implemented an agreement concluded with the major banks enabling them to perform online verification of refugees and asylum seekers. This will enable these categories of people to access financial services.
In our Reception Centers, our efforts have in large measure been focused on improving efficiencies in dealing with applications for asylum. In this regard, we have been mindful that genuine asylum seekers were not best served by the prolonged periods that they had to endure while their matters were adjudicated.
We implemented a fast- track system firstly at the Durban Refugee Reception Centre, and are doing likewise in Musina and Pretoria. Our preliminary findings indicate positive trends in that the numbers of Asylum seeker applications have decreased quite dramatically particularly in the Durban refugee reception center.
We are pleased to announce an overall decrease in the number of Asylum Seekers who have come in to our centers throughout the country. In 2010 we received a total of (185 918) applications for asylum. In 2011, this figure dropped to (87 020) applications and last year the figure reduced further to (85 058).
These decreases are the result of more efficiency at our centers, our ports of entry, the re-deployment of the South African Defence force on our borderline, and most importantly, the relative peace and stability that has been maintained on our Continent during this time.
I must hasten to add that we are not making it more difficult to apply for asylum in South Africa as some are now suggesting. In fact we are seeing a significant increase in the number of refugee applications being granted in those centers where the asylum seeker numbers have reduced. This is a positive sign and we believe that the absence of huge throngs actually creates a condusive atmosphere for those persons who are genuinely in need of humanitarian assistance.
Speaker at the end of 2011 when we first recorded a significant reduction in the number of asylum seekers, we did not want to raise any expectations as we felt that notwithstanding our efforts a decrease year on year of just under 100 000, asylum applications could be an aberration. However in 2012 we again recorded a decrease and because we have experienced this in two successive years, we are very cautiously calling this a downward trend. All indications are that in this year, barring the outbreak of war, or other catastrophic occurrence on the Continent and our region, we are set to see further reductions in the number of asylum seekers.
Thus when we stood here in this chamber and spoke about South Africa being the world’s largest recipient of asylum seekers, we are now saying the situation in South Africa is rapidly normalizing.
So these developments should remind us, once again that we are not an island, that our fortunes as a country are inextricably linked with the fortunes of our brethren on the Continent. As has been said by former Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki as well as President Jacob Zuma on so many occasions, South Africans cannot dream of peace, prosperity, and a better life, without dreaming that same dream for the rest of Africa.
We therefore welcome the recommendation to end the refugee status of certain exiled Angolans by the UNHCR in 2011- this is good news for us and the continent. The UNHCR has noted that circumstances in Angola have changed significantly, to the extent that it is no longer a refugee producing country. In fact, as the latest member of that elite class of countries called constitutional democracies, Angola is a country that has decisively put its past behind it and is notching up some impressive developmental statistics:
It is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent its GDP growth projected to be in the region of 7per cent, it is a country attracting good deal of foreign investment, the human development index indicates that in regard to health education and income Angola has since 2006 performed above the regional average, and it a rapidly growing tourist destination.
Speaker last week, Cabinet declared its support for the proposal made by the UNHCR that all refugees who sought refuge in South Africa on the basis of the Angolan Civil War, the Angolan War of independence or the general insecurity and strife in the Republic of Angola will be capable of initiating durable solutions by relinquishing their status as refugees. Refugee status is not meant to be a permanent situation. This is why all of the international instruments governing refugee matters refer to cessation in circumstances where significant changes have occurred which allow people -who previously fled under threat of persecution- to return to their home countries. I do not need to remind Honourable Members that the same situation pertained in South Africa with the unbanning of the ANC. Many hundreds of people who were in exile returned home to their country of birth to put shoulder to the wheel to help re-build our beloved country.
Angolan refugees who have dreams of a homeland that will forever be a place of peace and prosperity are now urged to return to their motherland and help reconstruct that country into a regional and continental place of pride. Where people abide by the rule of law and where there is peace and prosperity for all. The UNHCR, the Angolan Government and ourselves, have in principle agreed to assist those who are still here and who wish to voluntarily return to Angola.
For those who wish to continue staying in South Africa, we will be introducing an option for such persons to apply for temporary or permanent residence visas upon obtaining their Angolan passports from their embassy in South Africa. We shall within the next few days be announcing the location of help desks and the deadlines within which such applications may be made during this window of opportunity. We therefore wish to urge those who wish to take advantage of this option to obtain their Angolan passports as soon as possible.
Hon Members will be aware that in terms of the Refugees Act the Standing committee on Refugee Affairs has the power to revoke anyone’s refugee status at any time. In declaring its support for the UNHCR’s recommendation in respect of affected Angolan refugees, the South African government has not only signaled its support for an end to the refugee producing status of Angola, but we have given those affected persons a window of opportunity for durable solutions to their status.
Once again: The options available to affected persons are: assisted voluntary repatriation, and for those who are willing to reacquiring their citizenship, but who nonetheless wish to reside in South Africa for reasons such as study or work, these persons should approach the Angolan embassy and apply for their passports and other documents. We will announce very shortly a procedure where these persons will be afforded an opportunity to apply for appropriate visas under the Immigration Act. These persons will then have the same status as every other foreign national who is living in South Africa and whose stay is governed by the provisions of the Immigration Act.
The last option available to Angolan refugees whose status may be the subject of review by SCRA, is to apply to the standing committee for an exemption from the cessation regime. This category will remain refugees in this country until the SCRA determines otherwise.
The Department has been in consultation with SCRA and once SCRA has communicated its approach in this regard, the Department will make known certain specific information and assistance points where affected persons may be helped to apply for each of the available options. We hope to be able to make this announcement within the next few days.
FILMS AND PUBLICATIONS BOARD
The modern world revolves around the internet and modern communications gadgets. Inherently however the new cyberspace does come with its own dangers, particularly to children. Harmful and age inappropriate content is easily accessed by children in the comfort of their homes. Adults are not immune from these dangers either.
Recently the FPB had an outreach program in Bredasdorp where we were privileged to meet Chrisna Junios. Chrisna was generous enough to share her story with us and has given me permission to share it with all of you.
A few years ago, Chrisna’s marriage was on the rocks and she was emotionally in a very bad place. Desperately she turned to social media and befriended a person online and they began communicating and eventually built a friendship. Unfortunately the marriage problems got worse and she suffered what is commonly called a nervous breakdown. She was admitted to hospital. Upon discharge she accepted a lift home from her cyber friend she had continued communicating with throughout the process. She never arrived home. Instead she was kidnapped and had to endure torture and degradation at the hands of her kidnappers. She was drugged and suffered sexual assault. She was finally rescued after 13 months in captivity. No one can imagine the strength it took to recover from this horrible experience. Chrisna is with us today as a guest of the Department. She is joined by her new husband Mr. Neno Junios, you are both very welcome here this afternoon.
Chrisna’s experience is a vivid reminder to us all that while the cyber world has revolutionized our lives, we should never imagine it is without peril to ourselves and our children.
The work done by the FPB must be supported across party lines and we should not fall into the mistaken notion as some have done, that this body is no different from the censorship board of the old Apartheid era. It is a vital state institution that enhances our security capabilities and very literally continues to save countless lives.
The FPB has this year secured partnerships worth more than R 20million to ensure that its classifications are understood and also to cultivate appreciation for the caution that we all need to exercise in cyberspace. Apple ITunes and Multichoice are among the companies the FPB has reached agreement with.
Some other achievements include the launch of online submissions system for the gaming industry, and the implementation of an electronic content labeling system aimed at ensuring broader access by distributors.
LEGAL DEPARTMENT
We are pleased to announce that the Amendment of the Citizenship Act as amended by Parliament came into effect on the 1 January 2013. The Act will add to our efforts which are aimed at securing the National Population Register.
With this Act we have sought to clarify the existing law which was sometimes misinterpreted and have affirmed that any person who applies for naturalization an must have been resident in the Republic for a continuous period of five years after having been granted permanent resident status. In effect this means that a person may only apply for naturalized status if they have been living in the country for ten years or longer.
We have also now introduced the principle of reciprocity regarding dual citizenship. This means that dual citizenship will now only be permitted if the country of origin of the applicant allows dual citizenship and if not; the applicant will have to renounce such citizenship prior to acquiring South African citizenship.
This year the Department was able to successfully defend 23 out of 29 court applications. These consisted of immigration, labour and civil claims. That equates to a 79% success rate.
At the same time the Department can report that it has successfully implemented measures to ensure that we reduce the risk of possible claims against the Department arising from contractual disputes.
In conclusion let me thank the Minister for her unwavering support and guidance the DG, and DDG’s and all of the officials of the department most of whom are unsung heroes of our country who go to work every day and do their very best for the people of this country.

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