Archive from November, 2014
Nov 28, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

Immigration debate causes sparks to fly

November 28 2014 at 10:38am
By Warda Meyer – Cape Argus

Cape Town – Talks of recession and claims of convicted fraudsters finding safe havens while rubbing shoulders with political parties, had members of the provincial legislature hot under the collar during a debate on the adoption of a report on immigration regulations.
Tabling the report on the impact on the province of the new visa regulations, DA Western Cape spokeswoman on Economic Opportunities and Tourism, Beverley Schäfer, recapped developments since the regulations were published in 2011.
Schäfer said 43 written and verbal submissions were received representing all the major bodies and associations affected by the regulations.
She added that the report provided conclusive findings on the impact of the regulations, the issue around capacity constraints which further exacerbated the problem, the question around human rights abuse, and litigation regarding pupils being kept out of schools and classified as undesirable.
“The report shows that the immigration regulations will have a detrimental effect on the economy of the Western Cape and South Africa in general. It is evident that significant job losses will occur across all sectors, with the possibility that some sectors would actually come to standstill. As a result, a number of litigation cases have already been launched against the Department of Home Affairs,” she said.
The EFF’s Nazier Paulsen said: “We are in agreement with the harsh measures imposed on visitors who overstay their welcome. We are a sovereign state and we should demand the respect we deserve.”
Using convicted German fraudster Jurgen Harksen as an example, Paulsen caused a stir when he recapped Harksen’s nine-year run from the law and his alleged links to the DA.
“You should know him, he funded your party. You exist because he gave you money for your organisation.
“A man was on the run from the law in Germany and he took refuge in South Africa and managed to dodge any regulations and set up a very good regulation with the DA,” Paulsen said before being stopped by the deputy Speaker, Piet Pistorius.
Pointing a finger at the DA, Opposition leader Marius Fransman said the party attempted to use the legislature to pull the diplomatic community based in SA into a bunfight over the issue.
Cape Argus

Nov 28, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

Asylum seekers run riot in Cape

November 28 2014 at 10:17am
By Natasha Bezuidenhout

Cape Town – Hundreds of asylum seekers turned away from a Home Affairs refugee office in the Cape Town CBD on Thursday ran riot, hurling stones and damaging the building.
Police responded with rubber bullets and teargas, injuring a number of protesters.
Tresor Mbangu from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was hit on the head by a rubber bullet fired by police.
He was helped by fellow citizens who took him to the police to show the damage they had caused. As they were approaching, the police fired rubber bullets again at them.
Tensions erupted after refugees were told to renew their permits in Durban or Pretoria.
Stones littered Lower Heerengracht while a number of windows were shattered.
EVIDENCE OF ANGER: The Home Affairs refugee office in Cape Town CBD was damaged after it was pelted with stones. Pictures: David Ritchie INDEPENDENT MEDIA
Ndombi Lubazedio Miriam, who arrived at the offices with her one-year-old daughter Aline Nanoka Amba, had an appointment to get proof of her marriage certificate her husband needed for a work permit.
“The security told me to wait at the gate. When people in the queue started making trouble he pushed me, I fell with my baby I was carrying on my back. He also pepper-sprayed us,” she said.
Fru Joy Chi, 30, from Cameroon, said it was unfair to be turned away after he was told to be at the office on Thursday.
“No one is explaining anything to us. Some are saying we must come back on Monday, but then we will have to pay a fine of R2 500 for arriving after the expiry date.”
Soleil Nantabara, 20, from DRC, was at Home Affairs to renew her temporary permit which expired on Thursday.
“I can understand why people are upset. They came here to have their permits renewed but were told to go to the refugee offices in Pretoria. No one has the money to travel that far.”
She added it was a problem for everyone because they could be arrested.
“They refuse to give us our papers. We came here to renew our papers, but today we were told we couldn’t. We have to renew it where we received our first permit, Durban or Pretoria. I wanted to go home for the holidays but now I can’t.”
She added it also left them feeling vulnerable to harassment by police.
Niclette Sheta, from DRC, whose permit also expired on Thursday, said they couldn’t work without their permits.
Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut said about 1 000 people “started fighting among each other” early on Thursday morning.
Cape Argus

Nov 27, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

The Chinese tourist is coming, but not to SA

Posted 26 November 2014 by Tyson Jopson Getaway Magazine

By the year 2020, the Chinese tourist will be the most coveted item on any country’s mantlepiece. That’s another trophy South Africa probably won’t have.
It’s quiet in Kruger, save for the slow rumble of our safari vehicle. As the headlights cut into the morning mist and the first trickle of sunlight touches the tops of the mopani trees, a distinctly foreign voice behind me asks, ‘What time do they let the animals out?’ I shove my standard-issue SANParks blanket into my mouth to muffle a guffaw that could’ve cleared northern Kruger of all life, indefinitely.
Tourists really do ask the stupidest questions. The most recent of these, however, got me TOLing (thinking out loud – yes, I just made that up). It comes from the China Tourism Academy and goes something like this: Dear SA, please could you change all your signage to Mandarin? We’re getting horribly lost down there and, frankly, we think you should do something about it. Love, the People’s Republic. I’ve taken some liberties with the translation, but essentially, the academy argues that a lack of Chinese signs in Africa is deterring Chinese travel to the continent. Ridiculous, no? Well, no.
See, ever since we hosted the Fifa World Cup, our dear Department of Tourism seems to have been sitting around with its collective fingers in its burgeoning bottoms. Sure, we’re still showing some growth in inbound tourism, but it’s a sliver of what it was in 2010. Maybe I’m being overly harsh, but milling around at the global average of around four percent growth annually just seems, well, average.
You think I’m being unfairly disparaging? How can a country possibly emulate – or top – its tourism figures in the wake of a major sporting event? Well, as the cock said to the hens, pointing at an ostrich egg, ‘I’d like to show you what’s being done elsewhere.’ Last year, London bucked an international trend by showing an increase in inbound tourism after hosting a major international sporting event. In its post-Olympic year, that figure grew by almost eight percent, recording the city’s best tourism numbers – ever. Now that’s extraordinary. And it was achieved, in part, by adopting a healthy respect for linguistically diverse travellers, which include Chinese-speaking tour guides and signs written in Chinese.
See, there’s currently a pandemic of Chinese tourists gagging for a place to holiday. It’s a global phenomenon and China is now the world’s largest outbound tourism market, with more than 83 million overseas trips made in 2012. That number is estimated to rise to 200 million in 2020. That’s more than 1 000 Boeings jam-packed with binoculars and moon bags leaving China every day. Yes, EVERY DAY.
The Chinese tourist, dear friends, is a coveted enigma. And whether we like it or not, it’s a golden opportunity to show an emerging market all corners of our delightful country. But if our latest tourism figures are anything to go by, our government has done close to diddly squat to harness this rapture.
But let’s get back to those signs, because I have a cunning plan. See, one of two things happens when a first-timer lands at Olly Tambo: they either flock north to Kruger, or south to Durban and Europe, I mean Cape Town. By and large, the little towns on the outskirts of our throbbing metropolis, pockets of pride like Benoni and Zandspruit, are completely bypassed.
Now if we took that appeal for signage seriously, we could solve this problem, lure in Chinese tourists and, as a bonus, keep our hotspots from becoming global parking lots. Instead of employing accurate translation, all we need to do is use it as a rebranding opportunity. For example, simply by swishing the words ‘Cape Town’ in Mandarin underneath a sign for Benoni, we’ll have moved our flagship holiday destination to within 10 kilometres of Joburg’s airport. Sure, my old hometown has more loan sharks than great whites and the only thing you’ll find in drag on a Saturday night is a Datsun with dropped suspension. But it does have artisanal coffee (of the moer variety) and a mall shaped like a boat. It’s basically Cape Town. It just needs a paint job. And there’s a beautiful mine dump that kind of looks like Table Mountain at the right time of day if you squint a little … after a few Klippies.
And Kruger? Well let’s jot that down underneath the turnoff to the Lion Park in Zandspruit. My only worry is whether there’ll be enough lions to keep the hordes entertained. Maybe at the same time as rebranding we could pen a not-so-stupid letter to the US. ‘Dear America, sorry but we now need all our lions. Would you mind terribly going back to shooting each other on hunting trips? Just ask Dick Cheney to show you how.’

Nov 27, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

Massive drop in Chinese travel to SA

– 16 Tue, Sep 2014

Tourism to South Africa from China has dropped significantly and tour operators are reporting travel cancellations from October onwards. According to members of the inbound tourism trade, this can be put down to the new immigration regulations.
CEO of Private Safaris, Frank Glettenberg, told Tourism Update travel from China had been down 80% since the Ebola outbreak and the announcement that visa applications would have to be made in person.
“Feedback from our agents in China is that they have effectively stopped promoting South Africa from travel date October 1 onwards. They also state that should a client actively request South Africa, they advise on the new regulations.”
While the Department of Home Affairs has suggested that the requirement for people to apply for visas in person is already in place, an investigation by Tourism Update showed that this was not the case Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has conceded that there are “challenges” and has called on missions abroad to start implementing the requirement.
According to Glettenberg, foreign independent travellers are still making bookings but these are mainly travellers from the Beijing and Shanghai areas. As the South African missions are located in these two cities, it is easier for those travellers to file visa applications.
Tour operators are concerned with the logistics involved in making bookings to SA. Business Development Executive of Your Africa, Nirvani Pillay, says: “We have been advised that the visa requirements are now restrictions and that alternative destinations are considered where visas are not as huge an issue.”

Nadia Dossa

Nov 26, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

Italy boat migrants top 2 200 in one weekend

2014-11-16 News 24

Rome – The Italian navy picked up more than 2 200 migrants from the Mediterranean over the weekend, in a blow to hopes that the ending of its naval search-and-rescue mission would stem the flow of refugees.
More than 860 migrants, mostly Syrian families, were taken to the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on Sunday, showing that many refugees are still ready to risk the perilous crossing from north Africa.
The Italian navy rescued 150 000 people in just over a year before its Mare Nostrum mission ended on 1 November after other EU governments refused to help Italy meet operational costs that Rome estimates at €9m a month.
Worryingly, the mostly Syrian refugees landed in Pozzallo on Sunday included an unusually high proportion of children, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Around 100 of the migrants were Moroccans, a country not usually represented among the people landing in Italy.
On Saturday a total of 477 migrants were delivered to Porto Empedocle on Sicily’s southern coast by Panamanian tanker the Gaz Concord and a navy patrol boat put 354 ashore at Pozzallo.
Greek oil tanker Byzantion picked up 230 people from their distressed boat on Friday evening and another 80 were taken ashore off the heel of Italy after the yacht in which they had travelled from Turkey was intercepted by coastguards.
Another navy boat, the Vega, was due in the mainland port of Reggio Calabria on Monday morning with another load of 230 migrants.

Nov 26, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

Hundreds of migrants on crippled ship off Crete

2014-11-25 – News 24

Athens – Ships from Greece rushed to help after a crippled freighter crammed with hundreds of migrants floundered for hours on Tuesday in gale-force winds and high waves in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said.
The 77-metre-long Baris cargo ship carrying some 700 people trying to enter Europe suffered engine failure around dawn 30 nautical miles southeast of the Greek island of Crete, the Greek Coast Guard said in a statement.
Four merchant ships, the Greek navy frigate Hydra and an air force rescue helicopter were sent to the area to evacuate the vessel if necessary, although authorities said they would probably try to tow it to Crete.
“The likeliest scenario right now is for the frigate to tow it to a safe haven,” coast guard spokesperson Nikos Lagadianos said. “It would be a very difficult operation and should take at least 10 hours.”
He told The Associated Press there were no reports of health problems onboard but anyone in need would be airlifted to a hospital.
The coast guard said initial indications suggested the passengers included Syrians and Afghans heading for Italy. The freighter was flying the flag of Kiribati, a small Pacific Ocean island, but it was not known which port it left from.
Tens of thousands of refugees, including many from war-torn Syria and Libya, seek to enter Europe illegally every year, paying smuggling gangs to ferry them across the Mediterranean in overcrowded boats. Hundreds die every year in the attempt.
More than 150 000 migrants have arrived this year in Italy.
On Sunday, 228 men, women and children were rescued from a crippled ship off Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. They told officials they were Syrian refugees who had been hoping to reach Italy.
– AP

Nov 26, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA leads Africa in economic integration

Nov 26 2014 07:00 Memory Mataranyika – Fin24

Harare – South Africa’s economy is better connected to the rest of the global economy and others on the continent than its peers in the region, according to the Africa Integration Index.

However, sub-Saharan Africa economies remain “substantially unconnected” to the rest of the world, noted experts in the index that was released by Visa on Tuesday.

Additionally, the experts say, economic integration within the region is also lagging behind. “African economies are substantially unconnected to the rest of the world.

“Secondly, African economies largely are unconnected to each other,” said Mandy Lamb, the country manager for Visa in South Africa on Tuesday.

The index, which measures the extent of economic integration in sub-Saharan Africa, concluded that SA was the “most globally integrated economy in Africa” and that other countries in the region, although still behind, could improve.

The region was also said to offer “major growth potential through greater regional integration”.

South Africa leads the Southern African region and the continent’s economic integration rankings after rising by nearly three points to 66.7 points while Mozambique is marginally up at 42.5 points.

Zambia had substantially raised its ranking by as much as 11 points after it climbed upto 37.2, with Zimbabwe remaining below it with 31.2 points.

Ghana leads West Africa with 52.5 points while Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy – was placed below it at 40.5 points. In East Africa, Kenya had a top score of 55 while Uganda and Tanzania are closely behind, with 48.3, 47.1 and 45.6 points respectively.

Even though, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana topped the Southern Africa, East Africa and West Africa regions, Visa notes in the report that the three countries are still “a long way off the global” standards with the “the index results (flagging) the need for further structural improvements” to enhance economic integration within the region and with other global economies.

“Africa stands to gain from a sustained structural benefit brought about by the opening up of African economies to each other and to the world at large.”

Visa said it was working with its partners to drum up and drive “cross-border integration to open up money flows across the region,” noted Lamb.

Visa notes in its report on the index that economic growth in Africa is likely to continue, with regional economies expected to attain average yearly growth rates of nearly 5.5% this year. Africa has a collective gross domestic product (GDP) of about $1.9 trillion, with the figure expected to top $2.6 trillion.

The Africa Economic Integration Index study was carried out with assistance from the Gordon Institute of Business Science visiting professor, Adrian Saville and Dr Lyal White, director for the Centre for Dynamic Markets and senior Lecturer at GIBS.