Archive from June, 2018

DA to take Home Affairs to task over Cape Town airport R25million losses in duty-free shopping

Citizen – 10 June 2018
The airport says it incurs losses in duty-free shopping because international visitors spend close to two hours moving through passport control.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Western Cape province says it will raise its concerns with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) about the diminishing number of immigration officials employed at Cape Town International Airport (CTIA).
The airport said on Wednesday that it loses R25 million in duty-free shopping because international visitors spend close to two hours moving through passport control.
Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for the Western Cape and its capital Cape Town, said the number of immigration officers available for duty at CTIA counters had decreased from 82 to 68 despite 750,000 more inbound flight seats to the airport since 2015.
The home affairs department only opens five counters out of 18 during peak hours to process on average 35,000 passengers per day, resulting in an immense bottleneck at passport control, which delays passengers and cripples airport activity, said DA spokesperson on tourism in the Western Cape Beverley Schäfer.
“I will be writing to the Western Cape minister of economic opportunities, tourism, and agriculture, Alan Winde, to engage with National Treasury over concerns surrounding the diminishing number of home affairs officials employed at the CTIA when the growth of Cape Town air access is expected to secure 150,000 more international inbound seats from 3 new flight routes in 2018 alone,” Schäfer said.

Swaziland officially re-named Eswatini

12 June 2018 – Tourism Update
Swaziland has officially changed its name to Eswatini. The change comes after King Mswati III made the announcement at the country’s celebration of its 50th year of independence in April.
The full name will be The Kingdom of Eswatini and means the place of the Swati people in the local siSwati language.
During his speech at the celebration Mswati explained: “The name Swaziland was inherited from the British. If we are to give true meaning to our independence, the time has come to give our country a name of its people.”
Eswatini Tourism has adopted the change as well and will be rebranding across all platforms over the next few months. This includes a new mobile-friendly website to be launched

Tears of joy after court rules against Home Affairs

07 June 2018 – Times Live
There were tears of joy as the High Court in Cape Town set aside a decision by the Department of Home Affairs to refuse a stateless family’s application for citizenship.
The Mulowayi family of Kensington‚ Johannesburg‚ finally found relief on Tuesday after a protracted battle with the department which had refused their application for citizenship on what has now been determined to be wrongful grounds.
The Mulowayi family had been in the country since the early 2000s. Florette Mulowayi has lived and worked in South Africa since 2002‚ when she left her home country as a refugee.
Her husband‚ Nsongoni‚ joined her in 2004.
Since they have been in South Africa‚ the couple – originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – had three children – all born in the country. One of the children subsequently died. The family was left stateless after being denied South African citizenship‚ despite meeting all the requirements.
According to Stefanie de Saude-Darbandi‚ a specialist immigration and citizenship law attorney representing the family‚ the court ruling effectively forces the department to render a decision within two months.
She said the court had declared a regulation requiring them to apply for citizenship only after 10 years of ordinary residence in South Africa was beyond the department’s powers and unlawful.
“The Mulowayi family has been put through a traumatic experience that left their youngest son without any legal status.
“This case is a victory not only for the Mulowayis but for the countless other families who are frustrated by inconsistent and sometimes wrongful interpretation and application of our laws by DHA officials‚” De Saude-Darbandi said.
Florette and Nsongoni were granted permanent resident permits in 2011 and waited five years before applying for citizenship. Even after renouncing their DRC citizenship‚ their applications for naturalisation were denied.
At the heart of the department’s decision to deny their citizenship application were regulations that‚ according to department’s legal counsel‚ stipulated a period of 10 years of being an ordinary resident before a citizenship application could be processed.
“However‚ as we argued in court‚ the Citizenship Act clearly stipulates that citizenship may be awarded if the applicant ‘is ordinarily resident in the Republic … for a continuous period of not less than five years preceding the date of his or her application’.
“The high court agreed and effectively set aside not only the (department’s) refusal to grant citizenship‚ but also the regulation that led to this wrongful decision‚” De Saude-Darbandi said.
She said the department had two months to decide on the family’s application.

Family stateless for a year as Malusi Gigaba dawdles

11 June 2018 – Times Live

Man prevented from visiting sick mother‚ and from attending her funeral
A family of three has been stateless for a year as a result of the Home Affairs Department not finalising his South African citizenship.
The father could not visit India when his mother got ill last year nor when she passed away in March this year because the permanent resident ID he has does not allow him to apply for a passport. They had renounced their Indian citizenship as part of their procedure to become naturalised South Africans.
In 2016‚ Minister Malusi Gigaba imposed a new regulation that required immigrants to attend a naturalisation ceremony‚ similar to citizenship ceremonies held in the US‚ the United Kingdom and Australia. The latest ceremony was meant to take place in November 2017‚ but due to the various cabinet reshuffles it was cancelled at the last minute.
There has not been a naturalisation ceremony since February 2017‚ meaning no one has been naturalised to South African citizenship in more than a year.
The man‚ who asked not to be named for fears of reprisal‚ his wife and their son received a letter conditionally approving their applications to be South African citizens in May last year.
In that letter‚ the department asked them to submit proof of renunciation of their Indian citizenship to finalise the issuing of citizen certificates. “On receipt of this document‚ you will be requested to sign the Declaration of Allegiance‚ whereafter your South African citizenship will be finalised‚” the letter from the department read.
Since [May 2017] the only thing we heard from the department is ‘we are waiting for the minister to announce the date’.
The family renounced their Indian citizenship the same month and they have been waiting for the issuing of their South African citizen certificates ever since.
This means that the man has not been able to travel outside South Africa since. He has a permanent residency ID and as such is unable to apply for a passport.
“Since [May 2017] the only thing we heard from the department is ‘we are waiting for the minister to announce the date’. In November we got a phone call that the induction would be on November 14 and November 22 would be the date of the ceremony. We attended the induction but unfortunately they cancelled the ceremony‚” the man said.
He said in November‚ his mother’s health deteriorated – he could not visit India. He tried calling a number of officials but the answer he received was that they were waiting for the minister to announce the date.
“I even went to the Indian embassy for assistance‚ and they told me I was no longer their citizen. Very sadly my mother passed away on March 1.”
He said he was still waiting for a miracle that Gigaba would announce a date.
“My son now needs to travel for sports. He has been selected for a hockey tournament representing his school in Singapore and Malaysia at the end of the year‚ but I am not sure whether he will make it.
“It is difficult to explain to him why he [may not be able to] go‚” the man said.
Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete could not be reached for comment.

Home affairs needs more money for immigration‚ says DA MP

11 June 2018 – Times Live

DA leader in Gauteng‚ John Moody‚ got firsthand experience of how foreign nationals are treated at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre in Marabastad.

Democratic Alliance MP Haniff Hoosen says the Department of Home Affairs needs to allocate more funding to immigration in order to deal with the problems at the refugee reception centres in the country.
On Monday‚ DA leader in Gauteng‚ John Moody‚ got firsthand experience of how foreign nationals are treated at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre in Marabastad‚ Pretoria.
Moody was first denied access by the security guards and had scuffle when they said he was not allowed inside. After intervention from a senior official‚ Moody was allowed in and witnessed how foreign national are kept like “cattle” inside the facility while they wait and hope to get asylum status.
Some of the applicants who were waiting outside also explained how difficult it was for them to get their documents‚ claiming that they had to bribe their way through.
Meanwhile‚ in the coastal city of Durban‚ Hoosen visited the Durban Refugee Reception Office‚ which he said was running smoothly – despite being under immense pressure.
“We were able to access the facility without any difficulty at all. We were warmly received by the management of the centre. We had very good interactions with the applicants at the facility.
“Our main finding was that that office is incapable of handling the demand it is facing. It has insufficient staff. There are only four refugee reception officers. These are the guys who interview each applicant‚ fill in the necessary document and send it the documents to the refugee board‚” said Hoosen.
He said some of the asylum seekers were beginning to lose hope that they would ever have legal residential status in the country.
“The problem is that there are thousands of asylum seekers who have come to the country and want to comply with the South African law. They go to that office but cannot get any help because that office can’t handle the demand.”
On the Marabastad centre‚ Hoosen said the problems at that office need political leadership.
“For years now‚ the allocation of funding in the department when it compiles the budget‚ the lease amount of money goes to immigration. Over the years‚ the problems have compounded…they don’t have proper facilities‚ they don’t have enough staff and I am not surprised about the report on Marabastad. This is a problem that has been going on for years now.”

Gigaba must explain why refugee centres have not been opened: DA

05 June 2018 – Times Live
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will request that Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba be summoned to Parliament to explain why the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth refugee reception offices have not been reopened.
It said refugees did not use Port Elizabeth or Cape Town as their ports of entry.
The DA said it would write to the chairperson of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee‚ Lemias Mashile‚ to request that Gigaba be summoned to account for why these reception centres had not been reopened.
“Clearly‚ the failure by Minister Gigaba to obey the courts is compromising the ability of the Department to ensure asylum applications are processed and finalised efficiently‚” DA shadow minister of home affairs Haniff Hoosen said.

OPINION: Start-up visas a solid way to boost job creation in SA

IOL – 5 June 2018
JOHANNESBURG – A start-up visa programme targets immigrant entrepreneurs with the skills and potential to build businesses in a guest or host country that are innovative, can create jobs, compete on a global scale and are sustainable.
History is now rich with successful “new-generation” firms, such as Facebook, Uber, Stripe and Airbnb, all of which began as start-ups. Today, many countries are working overtime to ensure that there is adequate support for their country’s start-ups, as this entrepreneurial space is undeniably where the “next big thing” will come from.
Most countries are now resolving to attract not just their own local talent, but also talent from other parts of the world. On the continent, we are blessed with a pool of young and dynamic ideation leaders, which are constantly generating exciting and innovative concepts.
However, the environment and the ecosystem in the countries they operate, as well as the lack of support, hinder their development.
In this regard, the AU Agenda 2063 focuses on the Africa we, as a continent, want. It reflects a vision for Africa based on the aspirations of African countries and their people. The agenda articulates the following – an integrated, people-centred, prosperous Africa, at peace with itself and enhances the ideology of a Pan-African state.
Yet when it comes to start-ups and entrepreneurs in general under the banner of the “The Future We Want for Africa”, many African countries lack the institutions that can provide adequate funding, skills development programmes, access to markets and even government support.
South Africa, on the other hand, has the ability to provide the much-needed infrastructures and resources that can support entrepreneurship. In addition, the legislation in South Africa has been fairly progressive in ensuring that various private sectors open up their supply chains to smaller players, though more still needs to be done. There is also an array of programmes that various local entrepreneurs can tap into, including access to seed grants for prototypes from various government agencies and corporates.
Amid all of this, we must keep our eyes constantly on the current unemployment rate, as stronger support for start-ups and entrepreneurs can help change these figures for the better, albeit slowly. According to data from Trading Economics, South Africa’s unemployment rate was at 26.7percent in the first quarter of 2018, unchanged from the previous period. The number of unemployed increased by 100000 to 5.98million and the number of employed rose by 207000 to 16.38million. Millions of youth are unemployed in South Africa. Start-ups in other countries:
Applicants can secure a Canadian start-up visa by proving that they have been accepted into a business incubator programme and received a Letter of Commitment from the incubator.
Those successful are granted permanent residence immediately and can apply for, and receive, a work permit within a week, while their permanent residence application is being processed. The initial work permit enables an applicant to enter Canada, attend workshops at the incubator and incorporate their company under Canadian federal law.
Designated business incubators are similar to elite business schools that all entrepreneurs want to attend. They are for profit organisations and all entrepreneurs have to pay fees for programmes and services. The incubators deliver curriculum and mentorship to accentuate attendee strengths and overcome challenges. They connect start-up ventures with international customers and networks to accelerate growth. At the conclusion of the 12 or 24-month incubation programme, the international entrepreneur’s business venture will be launched in Canada. Ongoing mentorship is also provided to ensure that the business grows across North America.
Since late 2014, the number of applicants to the Canadian start-up visa programme has risen and its potential is being realised. The country’s unemployment rate has fallen sharply to 5.7percent.
In the UK, the entrepreneur visa lasts for a total of three years and four months. This can be extended for a further period of two years if the applicant has met certain conditions. Entrepreneurs must show that two full-time jobs have been maintained. If not, two new full-time jobs for British citizens or permanent residents must have been created and existed for at least 12 months. The country’s unemployment rate is at 4.2percent.
The Italian government’s start-up visa programme is a special permit reserved for entrepreneurs coming from outside the Eurozone with innovative business ideas. Recently, it extended the programme to foreign students who have received a degree in Italy and want to stay in the country. Although the Italian start-up scene overall still lags Germany, France and the UK, Italy’s visa programme is arguably one of the best. The strengths of it include its relatively quick turnaround time and applicants need to demonstrate they have access to at least 50000 (R738390) in start-up funding. Italy’s unemployment rate is at 10.2percent.
The French Ministry for Economy and Finance has what is called “Passport Talent” programme, set up to attract more foreign workers. Now, as part of the so-called French tech visa, entrepreneurs, start-up employees and angel investors can apply to grow their ventures in France.
The visa is valid for four years, and also covers spouses. One way to get the visa is by applying for the related French Tech Ticket programme, that is, of course, if you’re willing to launch your business in France. Those selected for this programme will work with one of 41 partner incubators for 12 months, which will provide mentorship and funding to the recipients. The Tech Ticket comes with 45000 to cover the costs of relocation. This is by far the most sophisticated programme given that the government puts some substantial initial investment in the start-up for relocation. Unemployment rate is at 9.5percent.
As one of the continent’s economic powerhouses, what can South Africa do regarding “immigrant” start-up visas?
Attract dynamic start-ups from various African countries that can collaborate with their South African counterparts in various key sectors. This could begin by giving special start-up visas to 100 of those selected that will be based in the country for 1 to 2 years.
The benefit is that their start-up ideas can be commercialised in South Africa for the benefit of the country and for that of the continent. Critics could argue that South Africa will be exploiting these start-ups, but the fact remains that this is already being done by the Americans and Europeans.
Place the selected start-ups in an accelerated programme with clear monitoring, evaluation and implementation strategies. Programmes should be “certified” by government agencies, which will be given the mandate to track and report on their progress. Ensure that there is benefit to the start-up’s country of origin, either by licensing the IP in their home country.
Provide private sector firms with access to a broader range of entrepreneurs, including the best and the brightest minds from around the world, and encourage more partnership between big business and start ups.
In conclusion, a South African start-up visa programme could establish an exciting and prosperous “business without borders’ environment for the entire continent’s start-up entrepreneurs, in light of the AU’s Agenda 2063 mandate.