Archive from March, 2018
Mar 30, 2018 - Uncategorized    No Comments

South African tourism has `huge growth potential`: Minister

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – South Africa will speed up visa processes and
lure major conferences in an effort to boost foreign arrivals by 40
percent by 2021, its tourism minister said on Friday.
The new measures are part of a goal to attract five million
additional travelers â€` four million international tourists and one
million extra local holiday trips and will help limit the “blip” a
major drought is having on South Africa’s top tourist draw card, Cape
Town, said minister Derek Hanekom.
“I am bullish because there is huge growth potential,” Hanekom told
Reuters in an interview.
“On the international front conditions are very much in our favor so
its going to be easier to achieve the four million part than the one
million,” he said.
Tourism, which contributes more than 400 billion rand ($34 billion)
to Africa’s most industrialized economy, or around 8 percent of GDP,
is seen by government as key to help drive growth and reduce a
stubbornly high unemployment rate.
South Africa emerged from a recession last year but is struggling to
grow its economy and less disposal income means locals are hesitant
to travel.
However, the long-haul destination still provides good value for
money for foreign tourists attracted to its white beaches, iconic
Table Mountain and wildlife safaris.
Earlier this month, the World Travel and Tourism Council said travel
and tourism would contribute around 424.5 billion rand to the overall
economy in 2018, before rising by 3.5 percent a year to 598.6 billion
or 10.1 percent of GDP in 2028.
Besides establishing a fund which is geared to help South Africa win
more global conferences and exhibitions, Hanekom said home affairs
officials were also developing online visa applications, as well as
possibly producing them for tourists on arrival at airports.
“Of course the first prize for us and the easiest is when visitors
from particulars countries don’t need visas at all,” he said.
Hanekom said discussions with home affairs and foreign relations
departments would consider granting more countries visa waivers for
short trips, following success with visitor numbers from Russia which
increased 57 percent last year.
Tourism officials said current visa processes were putting off
tourists from China, India and Nigeria, some of the world’s largest
outbound travel markets.
($1 = 11.8239 rand)

Mar 30, 2018 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Unabridged birth certificates: a hassle‚ ineffective and a deterrent to tourism

The need for families to obtain unabridged birth certificates before
travelling is a deterrent to tourism‚ which should be a growth
industry‚ according to survey.
Research by Travelstart from February 12 to March 12‚ 2018 tapped
into the views of 559 travellers‚ specifically‚ those who have
travelled outside South Africa in the past two years with minors
under the age of 18.
• 67% of respondents said they needed to apply for an
unabridged birth certificate to travel.
• 41% of the sixty seven percent said their application took
more than 6 weeks to process through Home Affairs‚ adding hassle‚
stress and cost implications to travel outside South Africa.
• 27% said they encountered administrative problems related to
the unabridged birth certificate.
Most respondents also said they encountered problems when departing
South Africa. Survey participants cited immigration (55%) and check-
in (42%) as the points in their journey where they experienced
problems.
Everywhere in the trade‚ consultants have unabridged-related horror
stories to share and 50% agree customers are confused by the
regulation.
Most airline representatives were reluctant to comment about
unabridged birth certificates saying: “it is a sensitive matter and
they are only applying the rule set by government”. However‚
Travelstart said‚ two well-known airlines that fly to South Africa
daily from hubs overseas confirmed their passengers experienced
problems regularly and pointed to a lack of training for immigration
officials and confusion at certain stations being the primary cause
of unabridged issues.
From the airlines` perspective‚ most problems occur at immigration
and check-in – aligning with passengers’ experience.
Twenty nine percent of travellers said they have been denied boarding
in the past two years because of unabridged birth certificate
regulation.
Travelstart also engaged members of the SA travel trade including
independent travel consultants and those working for retail travel
agencies. Travelstart found that foreign families travelling to South
Africa are most negatively affected by unabridged birth certificates.
`Everywhere in the trade‚ consultants have unabridged-related horror
stories to share and 50% agree customers are confused by the
regulation.`
Almost two thirds (67%) of surveyed agents said their clients have
been affected by unabridged birth certificate regulation with foreign
families travelling to South Africa (67%) and single mothers (33%)
being the most negatively affected.
According to Aviation Barometer‚ published every quarter by Airports
Company South Africa‚ growth in passenger numbers at nine airports
held steady at just over 3% in the fourth quarter of 2017.
Despite this growth‚ Travelstart said: `Unabridged birth certificates
continue to prevent families from travelling. In many cases‚
travellers and airline staff at overseas origin airports are left to
fend for themselves with the onus being on the traveller to carry the
correct documentation…`
Tourism currently sustains 700‚000 direct jobs‚ but its growth is
being stymied. The unabridged birth certificate policy should be
reviewed‚ said Travelstart.
`. . .The regulation is negatively impacting the tourism experience
and more than likely deterring willing participants from a sector
thirsty for growth. . .
`As the potential for growth in the sector is more than apparent and
needed to boost jobs and the economy‚ those working in South Africa’s
travel trade remain hopeful that revising the need for superfluous
unabridged birth certificate regulation forms part of South Africa’s
new dawn (as espoused by President Cyril Ramaphosa).`
Travelstart added the policy was not even effective in addressing the
reason it was implemented – to combat child trafficking – as real
human traffickers don’t follow legitimate and documented methods of
travel but cross the border in illegitimate and clandestine
circumstances.

New e-visas set to begin roll-out in SA at end of March 2019

2018-03-22 – The South African

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA –: Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba during the South African Revenue Services preliminary revenue collection results announcement on April 03, 2017 in Pretoria, South Africa. SARS commissioner Tom Moyane revealed the revenue collected R1.14-trillion during the 2016/17 fiscal year.
Sick of all the paperwork every time you travel to South Africa? Well, E-visas could soon make your lives a whole lot easier. Home Affairs seems to agree too…
The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that phase one of a rollout of electronic visas (e-visas) will begin on 31 March 2019.
While some of the final details are still up in the air, a parliamentary reply from Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba has revealed more about what travellers can expect.
What exactly is an e-visa?
While we’re sure some foreign nationals had hope regarding being free of paperwork, Gigaba says some will still be involved. It is 2018 not 2035, folks…
“eVisa introduces online capture of visa and permit applications and capturing of applicant’s biometrics in South Africa and abroad. An application will be captured and submitted online together with the required supporting documents that will be scanned and attached to the application. The applicant will then present himself/herself before a DHA Official for
biometric enrolment and verification of the supporting documents.”
Following the verification of those documents, all the relevant forms are electronically routed to the Home Affairs head office in Pretoria for adjudication. For an approved visa/permit, a secure QR-Code is generated for print on the notification notice/letter sent to the applicant. This QR-Code contains the approved visa/permit detail and is maintained and managed by DHA at a “secure web-storage facility”.
That very same QR-Code will then be scanned upon arrival here in SA.
The e-visa rollout plan
Beginning with what the department is calling “Phase one, release one”, applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas and applications for waivers will be done through the new system.
The rollout of phase one of the e-visa system will be at a foreign mission, embassy or local Home Affairs office yet to be determined.
“This is to ensure system stability. Once table, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online,” Gigaba said
According to DA Shadow Minister of Tourism James Vos, these modern-day visas will have big positives for the tourism industry.
“Electronic visas will boost the tourism industry by cutting turnaround times for the issuing of travel documentation while ensuring the information of applicants is secure.”
“Most importantly, improved tourist arrivals will facilitate more job growth in the industry while guaranteeing job security for 1,4 million South Africans already working in the tourism industry.”
Let’s hope the new system has tourists flocking to SA in bigger numbers than ever before.

South Africa introducing electronic visas

Mar 27, 2018 – Biometric Update
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirmed that the first phase of the electronic visa system will be piloted by the end of March 2019. According to a Business Tech report, this will make it easier for tourists to enter the country thanks to the online visa and permit application process and capturing of applicants’ biometrics both locally and abroad.
The rollout of the first phase of the e-visa system is expected to take place at a foreign mission, embassy or local DHA office and the pilot will initially cover temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, applicant notifications and biometric details.
“The rollout programme will be gradual starting with Phase 1, which entails applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission,” explained Member of Parliament for the Democratic Alliance and Shadow Minister of Tourism James Vos.
“Electronic visas will boost the tourism industry by cutting turnaround times for the issuing of travel documentation while ensuring the information of applicants is secure,” added Vos. “Most importantly, improved tourist arrivals will facilitate more job growth in the industry while guaranteeing job security for 1.4 million South Africans already working in the tourism industry.”
According to Gloria Guevara Manzo, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the implementation of biometrics technology to facilitate secure borders is the single biggest opportunity for the travel and tourism sector in 2018.

SCA dismisses Gigaba’s appeal against Oppenheimers’ VIP terminal

2018-03-28 – News 24

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s bid to overturn his own decision to let Fireblade Aviation Oppenheimer operate a private VIP terminal at OR Tambo International Airport was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.
“The minister cannot rely on his own unlawful attempt to circumvent the decision he had lawfully made to grant Fireblade’s application,” Wednesday’s judgment handed down by Judge Malcolm Wallis read.
“The application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs,” concluded Wallis, with Acting Judge Hughes concurring.
The court battle was launched in November 2016 by Fireblade when the minister appeared to do an about-turn on granting Fireblade the permission for the VIP section.
The application sought to have the court declare that approval for the terminal – allegedly granted by Gigaba in early 2016 – could not be renounced.
Gigaba and the director-general of Home Affairs had asked the Supreme Court of Appeal for special leave to appeal a judgment in 2017 by Judge Sulet Potterill that the company, owned by the Oppenheimer family, be allowed to run a high-end private aircraft travel and customs and immigration service at the airport for business people.
The South African Revenue Service and the Department of Home Affairs would provide customs and immigration services akin to other privately-owned airports such as Lanseria, north of Johannesburg.
Gigaba had initially granted permission, according to the previous hearing, but then denied this. He said that it had only gone as far as all of the interested parties agreeing to the proposal.
Fireblade challenged this and won, so the minister, the department and Denel applied for leave to appeal the judgment. Potterill refused them leave to appeal, and also ordered that Fireblade’s right to continue business stay in place, in case the department appeals in a higher court. Usually a court decision is put on hold pending the finalisation of an appeal.
However, Wednesday’s judgment read: “Potterill J’s grant of an order in favour of Fireblade was based upon two documents in which it was recorded clearly and contemporaneously that on 28 January 2016 the minister had granted the approval sought and signed a letter to that effect to be forwarded to Fireblade.
No prospects for success
“The accuracy of these documents, one of which was a letter addressed personally to the minister, was not challenged at the time. Instead, when the third respondent (Denel) raised an issue, the minister in his own handwriting noted that Fireblade be informed that ‘the approval we granted them is also suspended’,” Wallis continued.
“The underlining was his. His subsequent attempts to explain that he had not granted Fireblade the approval it sought, but merely indicated that ‘the major stakeholders have indicated that the project can go ahead’ were inconsistent with these documents and we cannot fault the judge’s rejection of them, subsequently endorsed by the full court.”
In the judgment on Wednesday, Wallis ruled that Gigaba and the director-general had no prospects of success in their application to appeal the Fireblade ruling.
Gigaba’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said the minister and department were studying the judgment so will not comment on its contents immediately.
But Tshwete said the department is abiding by Potterill’s order and the aviation services and immigration offices are operating at Fireblade’s terminal.

Shoddy treatment by Home Affairs wrecks families

27 March 2018 – Groundup
Refugees at the Home Affairs Office on Cape Town’s Foreshore have described how getting their children legalised was a slow and frustrating process. Some said they had been struggling since last year with the family-joining process.
Family joining means granting refugee status (or a similar secure status) to family members “accompanying a recognised refugee”, explains the University of Cape Town’s Refugee Rights Unit at its Law Clinic.
Lack of transparency and arbitrary policies fail to protect families of refugees, says civil society organisation
A DRC refugee, who did not wish to have her name published, told GroundUp she was left heartbroken when a primary school in Parow refused to enrol her seven-year-old for grade one because the child is undocumented.
“My child will likely miss school next year [as well]. I have been to Home Affairs Foreshore more than five times … I never got a chance to get inside the offices. The officials have been telling me, ‘Come back tomorrow’. When I return the following day, it is the same story. I am tired,” she said.
The Scalabrini Centre says it has had 530 people approach its offices for assistance with family joining since 2013.
In December, Scalabrini, represented by the Law Clinic, obtained an order from the Cape High Court ordering Home Affairs to file an affidavit with the court by 31 January. The affidavit must describe the “national policies, administrative procedures and training of staff” that ensure that dependants of refugees are properly dealt with in terms of the Refugee Act.
Home Affairs asked for more time on 2 February.
Corey Johnson, an advocacy officer at Scalabrini, said Home Affairs often didn’t give reasons why it turned away refugees trying to join their families. Sometimes an official might give a reason why they were refused, but it was not in writing. The lack of a straight-forward policy means refugees can’t realise their rights and this goes against the Refugee Act and the Constitution.
“The Refugee Act provides that a person is a refugee if he or she is dependent on a recognised refugee – a provision which is consistent with South Africa and international refugee and human rights instruments, as well as with policies of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees,” Johnson explained.
Dependents included spouses, unmarried dependent children, and destitute, aged or frail family members.
According to Scalabrini it has had to try and intervene to help asylum seekers whose family life is threatened by deportation, despite them being dependents of a recognised refugee.
Home Affairs persistently uses arbitrary policies and procedures to deny protection to refugees who wished safely and legally to remain together as families, Scalabrini said in court papers.
“Having fled their homes and families in conditions of chaos, war, or persecution, most asylum seekers are vulnerable and ignorant of their rights. They are unrepresented and uniformed when interviewed by the authorities. They may not know when or whether their family members will join them or even if those family members are still alive,” the Scalabrini Centre stated in court papers.
A refugee couple from the DRC with two children of school-going age told GroundUp: “Today is a third day my children have missed school. The officials keep on telling me to return tomorrow and they do not give an appointment letter. So every time I return I have to start from scratch.”
A Rwandan woman, who said she got her refugee status in 2002, has been trying since July 2017 to register her child. “Every time I get here they turn me away saying come back next month … I got frustrated and sought help at the UCT law clinic, who gave me a letter that I came with today.”
Esther Basila from DRC sought legal assistance from PASSOP (People against Poverty and Suffering). She and other refugees had their names and phone numbers written down by a Home Affairs official on 5 March 2017. She has never been contacted.
Basila lives in Malmesbury. Each time she travels to the Foreshore office with her three children, aged 12, 16 and 18, it costs her R150.
Anthony Muteti, a Zimbabwean with Voice of Africans for Change said, “My five year old child is unregistered. When I first took her for family joining she was a few months old. The official said I should bring the baby back when she turns five so that they are able to capture her biometrics. Since then, I have been going up and down to Home Affairs.”
“I do not understand why the process takes long because the information is readily available in the files,” said Muteti.
Home Affairs was contacted several times to explain the family joining process procedure and why it is time consuming, but there was no response.

SA intervenes after Lesotho king was ‘mistreated’ at border

27 March 2018, IOL
Pretoria – South African senior government officials were on Tuesday, intervening to quell a diplomatic spat with neighbouring Kingdom of Lesotho after King Letsie III was “mistreated” at the border between the two nations.
“I’ve just had a meeting now with the foreign minister of Lesotho. As you know, we are experiencing problems at the border. The king of Lesotho is extremely aggrieved by the way he was treated at the border. I have expressed to him my sincerest apologies for this,” Foreign Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said in Pretoria.
“I have indicated to him that I will personally go to Lesotho to apologise to the king for any mistreatment he might have encountered at our border.”
Sisulu said Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba was on Tuesday evening travelling to the border as part of the high level intervention, amidst reports that aggrieved Basotho are planning to block the busy border post.
“He [Gigaba] is on his way to the border post so that he can deal with some of the administrative problems that have been brought to our attention by the government of Lesotho,” said Sisulu.
South Africa’s top diplomat met her Lesotho counterpart on an urgent basis, at the conclusion of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers hosted in Pretoria.
“We are very concerned about what might happen there [at the border post] and therefore we needed to ensure that we can normalize the situation. The complaint from the king was uppermost in his mind,” said Sisulu.

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