Archive from January, 2017
Jan 16, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Zimbabwe-SA special permit holders edgy

Zimbabwe-SA special permit holders edgy
12 Jan 2017 – Bulawayo News

BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) holders are nervous about their future in South Africa as it remains unclear whether Pretoria would renew their documents, which expired at the end of December this year.

The South African government is yet to indicate the course of action it will pursue over the expired ZSPs, causing jitters among their holders who constitute a larger percentage of Zimbabweans in the Rainbow Nation.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans are said to be in South Africa, most of them illegally.

In 2012, Pretoria issued ZSPs to allow thousands of Zimbabweans illegally working in Africa’s most industrialised economy to regularise their stay there.

The permits first expired on December 31, 2014 and were renewed the following year for three years.

Out of the 200 000 applications received back then, slightly over 185 000 were approved while the rest were rejected.

All Zimbabweans with a crime-free record were eligible to apply for the special permits. The South African Department of Home Affairs had to waive all the stringent requirements that are normally associated with acquiring a work permit in the neighbouring country.

During the time, the South African government also invited Zimbabweans, who had fraudulently acquired national identity cards and passports of that country, to surrender them and apply for the special permits without any retribution.

Ngqabutho Mabhena, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, recently circulated a notice assuring members of his association not to panic, saying in their engagements with the Department of Home Affairs they had been told not to worry about what would happen beyond December 31.

The notice indicated that Pretoria was planning a new arrangement that would see holders of the ZSP legally staying in South Africa beyond 2017.

But Migrant Workers Union of South Africa general-secretary, Mandla Masuku, said while some ZSP holders had hoped that the host country would come up with a win-win solution for both parties, many are already disturbed.

“People are beginning to panic and this can be attested to by the number of those contacting our organisation seeking clarity on the way forward,” Masuku told the Financial Gazette.

“People are not yet ready to return to Zimbabwe because they see no opportunities there.”

Masuku said chances of the South African government renewing the permits were very slim with the documents clearly written “non-renewable” as part of their conditions.

Masuku, however, said the permits could be extended to 2018 after which ZSP holders could be subjected to the normal visa regime like everybody else.

With the country’s potentially explosive elections due next year, many fear that South Africa may engage in mass deportations of Zimbabweans who are illegally staying in that country to influence the vote across the Limpopo River.

South Africans accuse migrants of putting a strain on the southern neighbour’s economy, leading to, at one stage, xenophobic attacks on foreigners.

Masuku advised the ZSP holders to behave themselves, stay away from crime and not to engage themselves in the political affairs of that country while awaiting their fate.

He also urged the affected Zimbabwean nationals to stay calm while waiting official communication from the South African government.

Bhekinkosi Mkhwebu, a special permit holder working in Johannesburg, said he and others in the same situation were now restive over the matter.

“We are now fretting because the South African government is just silent over our fate and we do not know what is going to happen at the end of it all,” said Mkhwebu.

Pretoria-based George Mkhwananzi said only a few ZSP holders were despondent.

“The skilled professionals feel trapped in this permit regime that seems to have wasted time they could have used to apply for permanent residence under normal permit regimes,” said Mkhwananzi who is also the deputy spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party.

“The majority — the unskilled ones — find security in numbers. Remember these are people who would not have qualified for any work permit in South Africa. They do not believe South Africa can be so heartless as to deport a quarter of a million people in ‘one swoop’,” Mkhwananzi noted while further indicating that a more stringent process could result in many ZSP holders failing to qualify.

“If the permits do not get renewed by 31 December 2017, the people will stay illegally in the country and I do not see the authorities successfully managing to sniff them out. It will be better for the South African government to renew those permits than to spend money deporting people who will return to the country afterwards. South Africa is, after all, benefiting from their presence in the country; it is a symbiotic relationship, despite protestations to the contrary”.

Mkhwananzi said it was disturbing that some migrants had joined the bandwagon of criticising the African National Congress-led government as if their stay in South Africa depended on their sympathy for the opposition.

“They must just work for their families,” he retorted

Jan 16, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

EU travel directive inches closer

EU travel directive inches closer
9 Jan 2017 – Tourism Update
A hearing on a new directive that threatens to entrench the power of Germany’s dominant tour operators, will take place later this month
A hearing on the revised EU Package Travel Directive (PTD), which prevents independent travel agents from compiling customised travel arrangements with products sourced from different suppliers, takes place in Germany on January 23.
For more on the directive, see our previous story here. The directive will apply to all countries in the European Union.
The controversial directive has the potential to entrench the power of Germany’s dominant tour operators, reintroduce exclusive agreements that have been banned in the country since 1994, and force retailers to take on the liabilities of tour operators.
But eleventh-hour lobbying may yield some tempering of the imminent legislation. Commented Reinhart Mecklenburg, Director of AfroSales Tourism Marketing Services in Germany: “Despite the rather unco-ordinated pressure exercised on the German government as well as on EU representatives in Brussels, it seems to me that our disunited travel and hospitality trade will eventually be successful in removing and amending some of the most detrimental regulations.”
Once finalised, the terms of the new directive are expected to become national law in March, a development that could coincide with Germany’s influential travel trade fair, ITB.
All EU member states are obliged to transpose the directive into law by January 1, 2018, for application from July 1 next year.

Jan 16, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Bumper year-end for domestic tourism

Bumper year-end for domestic tourism
6 Jan 2017 Bizcommunity

Hospitality and entertainment establishments will be laughing all the way to the bank thanks to South Africans taking a “Sho’t Left”. Tourism and hospitality authorities have predicted a “bumper year end for domestic tourism”, ahead of updated festive season statistics, expected to be released next month.

“While we do not yet have confirmed numbers for domestic travel in the 2016 festive season, we are encouraged by the trend we have seen so far for 2016,” said Sisa Ntshona, head of SA Tourism. He said the latest statistics indicated that 12.7million domestic trips were taken in the first half of last year.

Sho’t Left is a campaign aimed at encouraging locals to be tourists in their own country. “These domestic travellers spent R15.3-billion compared with 2015’s spend of R9.1-billion in the same period. So South Africans are definitely travelling their own country.”

Sun City, the Kruger National Park and the traditional holiday cities of Durban and Cape Town topped the list of favourite destinations.

“KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are popular provinces visited by a lot of South African holidaymakers in the festive season. But we encourage South Africans to travel throughout our beautiful country.”

Ntshona said the #StayinSA [social media] campaign – to encourage local travel – was “well received”.

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, head of the Federated Hospitality Association of SA, said: “In all of the major holiday cities like Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London, the numbers are looking good in terms of occupancy rates.”

For the second quarter of 2016, Fedhasa said there was a 26% increase in leisure tourism.

Tshivhengwa said the different campaigns encouraging South Africans to travel locally and government’s R110-million pledge towards the domestic tourism market have had a positive effect.

“The prime locations remain Sun City, Kruger National Park, Durban and Cape Town.”

Source: The Times

Jan 16, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Additional staff ease queueing at OR Tambo

Additional staff ease queueing at OR Tambo
11 Jan 2017 – Tourism Update
OR Tambo International Airport immigration queues have been managed by an additional 92 staff members this past festive season.
Following the deployment of 92 additional staff at OR Tambo International Airport between December 9 and January 14, Tourism Update understands that the temporary solution to the long queues has been managed effectively.
Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa CEO, June Crawford, said: “Although the additional staff have improved the situation, it is only temporary and a permanent solution is still to be discussed.”
Chris Zweigenthal, Chief Executive of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa said: “The overall situation has been greatly enhanced with much better and acceptable manning levels for both arrivals and departures as well as the situation for transit passengers.” He added that the problem was not the Department of Home Affairs’ systems but rather the shortage of staff.
Zweigenthal confirmed that the waiting time since the deployment of additional staff had been limited to 20-30 minutes, adding that processing times for international arriving passengers had improved but were still lengthy due to the capturing of biometrics.
Comair Corporate Communications Manager, Susan Van Der Ryst, said: “We did not experience nor did we receive any feedback from passengers of long queues at immigration over the month of December.”

Jan 16, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Tour operators anticipate another bumper year

Tour operators anticipate another bumper year
11 Jan 2017 – tourism update Concerns have been raised about British propensity to travel to South Africa due to price increases.
While local tour operators are expecting increased arrivals in 2017, the overseas trade suggest that price increases may deter tourists to certain destinations.
Local DMCs have a positive outlook for the year ahead based on enquiries and bookings received thus far. Glenn McKeag, CEO of Springbok Atlas Tours & Safaris, said forward bookings were showing good growth, with all signs that 2017 would surpass 2016. Similarly, Katja Quasdorf, Product and Marketing Director at Jenman African Safaris, said enquiries for South Africa had been coming in earlier, with an increase in numbers for FIT tours, self-drive tours as well as guided group tours.
However, Martin Wiest, CEO of Tourvest Destination Management, pointed out that while South Africa could expect shoulder and off-season growth, availability would cap high-season growth.
High-season availability was a concern because of a lack of inventory and infrastructure, said Wiest. He explained that, for this reason no estimated growth was perceived for those periods. He added that Tourvest would focus more on shoulder and off-season growth and hoped to see a 10% increase in these areas.
However, concerns have been raised about South Africa’s biggest market, the UK.
John Haycock, from UK-based Africa Explorer, suggested that travel to South Africa and dollar-based Southern African destinations had become more expensive for the average UK family. He said the after effects of Brexit had resulted in a 20% increase in the cost of living. “The pound continues to get weaker, and airline prices are not going down either.” The pound was recorded at R24.49 on January 11 2016. The South African rand was at R16.61 to the pound on January 11, 2017.
However, Nigel Vere Nicoll, suggested that while the pound had weakened, South Africa was less likely to experience a decrease in arrivals compared with other African destinations that priced in dollars, given the significant devaluation against the dollar. “The fact that South Africa quotes in the rand and not in dollars, is hugely beneficial.”
Patrick Menzies, SAA Manager: Sales and Marketing for Scandinavia, Finland and Baltics, also noted an increase in prices. He said while South Africa remained an inexpensive destination for Scandinavians, overseas travel agents continued to increase the mark-up on packages. “South Africa needs to realise that they are not only competing with tourism in the rest of Africa, but also against the world.”
Travel to Zimbabwe in 2017 was also expected to increase with the opening of Victoria Falls airport and accommodation options available in Victoria Falls and Hwange, said Quasdorf. She added that Kenya Airways flights linking Livingstone and Cape Town would also help to make packaging the areas more interesting.

Jan 10, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Between theory and practice: visa surprises for immigrants

Between theory and practice: visa surprises for immigrants
10 Jan 2017 – By: Stefanie De Saude

South Africa’s immigration laws implemented in May 2014 might appear to be clear and straightforward, but foreigners attempting to apply for and acquire temporary residence visas and/or permanent residence permits are often surprised to discover that these laws, in theory, are

It is not uncommon to find a number of visa applicants having different outcomes to the same visa/permit applications filed. In theory, renewing a visa which expires in about 60 days should be a simple process. In practice, however, this could prove to be a complex and time-consuming process which may result in the application being ultimately rejected or the visa issued after the applicant has already left the country.

Much depends on where people applied for their visas or visa extensions, who handled the application, and how the official concerned interpreted the provisions of the Immigration Act. While immigration is a regulated process and officials processing the applications are meant to be guided by the Immigration Act and its Regulations, this does not always transpire in practice. Visa/permit applications in practice are sometimes processed on the basis of officials’ personal opinions, a directive which is more restrictive than the law which renders it ultra vires the Act and therefore unlawful, or on the particular mood of the official on that particular day. A variety of outcomes, therefore, is possible.

Most people do not fully understand their administrative rights, a lawful or unlawful refusal or a valid appeal or when to approach a competent court for relief. They may abandon their application at the first incorrect refusal, believing and trusting the decision of the adjudicator to be correct, when in many instances, these refusal decisions are incorrect in law or fact. Visa/permit applications are required to be managed with the highest degree of dignity expected of the South African government, but often this does not occur. It is important to note that in most instances, these officials often have every intention of providing the correct advice and processing applications lawfully.
A growing need for specialised immigration practitioners

With the changes in law and variance in practice, there is a growing need for the assistance of specialised immigration practitioners. An immigration practitioner understands the Act and the processes to be followed to achieve, amongst other things, lawful outcomes. While any person is able to put together a visa or permit application, this person may not have the knowledge and/or expertise in understanding and complying with a legal process. A popular misconception in using an immigration attorney is that foreigners often assume that attorneys are used principally to fast-track applications/outcomes. This is not so.

These attorneys may over the years have cultivated relationships with the Department of Home Affairs and its officials but the principle role of the immigration practitioner are to ensure lawfully compliant applications are filed, that applications are lawfully processed and the rights of applicants are promoted and protected. Having officials fast-track applications for any person (attorney or not) could be construed as corruption. Immigration is a “status issue” which affects one’s daily life and it is therefore inherently important and urgent. It should, therefore, be dealt with properly by both the applicant and the Home Affairs officials.

Jan 9, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Univisa relaunched for Zimbabwe and Zambia

Univisa relaunched for Zimbabwe and Zambia
6 Jan 2017 – Tourism Update
Zimbabwe Minister of Home Affairs, Ignatious Chombo, signed the KAZA visa Memorandum of Understanding in Livingstone on December 21.
The KAZA univisa for Zambia and Zimbabwe was relaunched at an event at the David Livingstone Safari Lodge on December 21, 2016. The visa aims to promote tourism and facilitate free, easy movement of tourists across the countries’ borders.
The univisa was first launched in a pilot programme between November 2014 and December 2015 with more than 47 000 visitors benefiting from the arrangement during the period.
The univisa costs $50 and is valid for up to 30 days as long as visitors remain within Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also covers those who visit Botswana for day trips through the Kazungula borders.
The univisa is available on arrival at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport, Victoria Falls Land Border in Livingstone, Kazungula Land Border, Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Victoria Falls International Airport, and Harare International Airport. Electronic applications may be accepted at a later date.
Citizens of 40 countries (those who are eligible to receive visas on arrival in both Zambia and Zimbabwe) are eligible.
“The original trial year was a major success and was embraced and supported by travel agents and tour operators across the world,” said Ross Kennedy, Chief Executive of Africa Albida Tourism.
Kennedy said the new visa regime was an early step in exploring and developing the Kavango-Zambezi (Kaza) Transfrontier Conservation Area as a tourism zone, with Victoria Falls as its hub.
It is anticipated that the KAZA univisa will be extended to Angola, Botswana and Namibia in future, however Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama has previously said that Botswana was not keen to participate in the programme.