Archive from August, 2018

MPs grill home affairs over delay in reopening refugee centres

MPs grill home affairs over delay in reopening refugee centres
29 August 2018, Iol
Parliament’s watchdog on home affairs is seeking answers as to why the department has not opened its two refugee reception offices.
Cape Town – Parliament’s watchdog on home affairs is seeking answers as to why the department has not opened its two refugee reception offices.
On Tuesday, MPs grilled the department on the refugee reception office and why they had failed to open the offices in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. This was despite a court ruling to open refugee centres.
“Once public works hands over the tender installation, then we as home affairs can come in and do our installation of equipment and furniture, this process will take eight weeks to do,” acting director-general at home affairs, Thulani Mavuso, said.
The department has constantly maintained it was waiting on the Department of Public Works to provide suitable office accommodation.
MPs gave home affairs officials a grilling on what progress the department had made so far.
Advocacy groups The Scalabrini Centre and the Somalia Association of South Africa have recently decided to bring forward contempt of court proceedings against the Department of Home Affairs.
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) found the department’s decision to close the refugee reception office to new applications for asylum unlawful and irrational, and ordered the department to reopen and maintain a fully functional office in the Cape Town metropolitan area by March 31.
It further ordered the department provide monthly reports on its progress in complying with the order.
The Nbaya case, launched in 2015 through the Legal Resource Centre on behalf of asylum seekers, relates to the renewal of the permits of asylum seekers at the refugee reception office.
This should happen even if they lodged their applications at other refugee reception offices around the country.
In this case, the Western Cape High Court found that the department’s policy of refusing to renew asylum permits from other offices was unlawful and ordered it to renew the permits of asylum seekers residing in Cape Town or to be informed of any decision relating to his or her application through the Cape Town refugee reception office.
“We never had a problem supplying monthly reports, we have concluded a discussion with the two groups to supply a report this week,” Mavuso said.
Portfolio manager of Public Works Reggie Ncobo said: “We have commenced with the procurement process, there were two options explored as a procurement model which the regional office has identified as state owned property in Maitland.
“The idea is for permanent and interim and thereafter we will be advertising a tender process.”
The department said the refugee centres would be opened next year.

Indian arrivals into SA: why have numbers dropped?

Indian arrivals into SA: why have numbers dropped?
29 August 2018 – Tourism Update

We unpack the reasons behind a decline in arrivals from India in 2018

Statistics SA has released the arrival numbers for the first half of 2018, showing a decline in key markets. Among those, India has seen a 3.5% decline in arrivals this year compared with the same time last year. Tourism Update approached a number of industry experts to find out why, and how the market can overcome this.
According to the trade, there are two main factors behind this decline:
The Cape Town water situation
Collin Thaver, MD of Southern Africa 360 says: “The water situation was the first turn-off for visitors this year.” This is reiterated by Trevor Hewett, owner and CEO of African Pride Tours who says: “We received a lot of bad publicity over the Cape Town water situation. Indians tend not to go into detailed explanation over issues; they make instant decisions and book late. They’ll say, ‘There’s no water in Cape Town. We’ll go somewhere else.’ I have received confirmation from a number of agents that this is a reason behind the decline.”
Hewett adds that a number of large tour operators have taken South Africa off their brochures: “They are not certain, and their consultants are not certain about the situation and they would rather not sell something they are not certain of.”
Savio Pereira, Southern Africa 360’s India-based Sales Director adds: “Whilst a fair amount of work was done to quell the negative publicity, the market was not entirely convinced and perhaps decided to play it safe.”
Neliswa Nkani, SA Tourism’s hub-head for the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia region, told Tourism Update: “We need to put the same amount of effort into reassuring the trade that we did to warn them about the situation. Things have improved. Our focus now should be in allaying the fears of potential tourists, communicating that the situation has drastically improved and that we are far better off now.”
Nkani points out that news about rain is real-time, and should be communicated as such. “If the situation is better now, we must tell people now. It does not help our cause to broadcast old figures of dam levels. We are at over 60% dam levels at the moment, the trade must know this.”
Difficult visa requirements
Industry experts agree that strict regulations and the increasing difficulty in obtaining a visa for South Africa has contributed to the decline in arrivals from India. Pereira says: “The visa issue is an ongoing concern. There is always a spike in the duration required to process the visa during the peak travel months. Whilst lack of proper documentation has been cited as a reason for delays, agents insist that this is not always the case. As Indians are generally last minute bookers, it adds to the pressure of obtaining visas in time.”
Hewett explains that, although visa processing has shown some small improvements in India, the perception that it is difficult to obtain a visa is holding South Africa back. “It is a matter of educating both the trade and the consumer. We have a stigma attached to us that we are a difficult destination, with ideas that kids could get turned away because of visa issues, so the child-visa issue has not gone away. The ease of obtaining adult visas has largely gone away, but the market is not aware of it.” He adds: “Documents required in addition to your passport when travelling are a challenge. In a relatively third-world country like India, they are not that easy to obtain. Tourists will say ‘what is an unabridged birth certificate? Do we even have such a thing? We’ll rather go somewhere else’.”
Thaver explains further that, as a package destination, strict enforcement of visa requirements for Botswana is putting tourists off visiting the two countries at once. Currently, Indian travellers require a visa when visiting Botswana, obtainable at only a handful of offices in India.
Hewett further believes that unrest and protests are adding to the perception that South Africa is not a desirable destination. “We, as a country, are not doing ourselves any favours. Any day there could be unrest in Hout Bay or on the road to Numbi Gate or other key tourist areas and this is having a harmful effect on tourism.” He adds that the effect of negative word-of-mouth information can also be a factor for tourists when choosing a destination.
Thaver has seen a slight uptick in interest and bookings for October and November. “This is in line with the trend we had last year as Diwali, or the ‘Festival of Lights’, is a big travel period for Indian clients.” However, he also notes with concern that the honeymoon and family bookings for the December and January period are not as strong as before. Pereira agrees. “We expect to see a gradual growth in numbers beginning from around October and touching a peak in April or May and onwards. Also, a large percentage of travellers who bypassed the destination this year would be expected to reconsider in the next.” Hewett reiterates that bookings remain flat at the moment, anticipating that those prospecting for business out of the Indian market will receive answers of “we’ll wait and see if the water and visa regulations improve.”
In terms of rectifying this decline, the trade believes there are a few key aspects to be addressed. Pereira suggests that campaigns must target the Indian market to promote the destination. “The focus of the campaign needs to be on educating and re-enforcing to the trade as well as to the consumer that there is no water problem, South Africa is safe and tourism stakeholders are open for business as usual. The key message being that all is OK,” he says.
Hewett agrees: “We need to educate and recreate the interest in us as a destination.”
Nkani, who was appointed to the region on June 1, has a number of plans in place for the Indian market. She hopes to improve the digital exposure of South Africa to the Indian market. “We will be hosting bloggers later this year who will contribute to the exposure online of South Africa as a destination. We will also be making use of short films and video clips used across social media to help grow our presence online. This will also help Indians see South Africa through an Indian person’s eyes, and not just from our point of view. Growing an online presence also helps create maximum exposure within a constrained budget because we will be able to reach far more people than at physical meetings.”
Nkani also notes that a direct flight between South Africa and Mumbai would greatly help, explaining: “The perception is that South Africa is very far away. A direct flight would make travel palatable.”

High Court rules children born in South Africa can be registered, regardless of their parents’ legal status

High Court rules children born in South Africa can be registered, regardless of their parents’ legal status
28 August 2018 – Groundup
There are serious consequences for children’s rights if their births are not registered
A decision of the Eastern Cape High Court in Grahamstown ensures access to birth registration for all children born in South Africa regardless of the legal status of their parents.
The Eastern Cape High Court in Grahamstown recently gave a decision in Naki v Director General Home Affairs that ensures the births of all children born in South Africa can be registered, regardless of the legal status of their parents.
Menzile Lawrence Naki, a South African, married Dimitrila Marie Ndovya while he was posted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a peacekeeper. They were married in the DRC according to his wife’s traditions and customs. The marriage was never registered and no marriage certificate was issued, since in the DRC customary marriages are not registered. As such the marriage is not recognised in terms of South African law.
The couple had two children in DRC. At the end of his tour, Naki returned to South Africa and his wife followed him a short while later on a three month visitor’s visa.
When Ndovya’s visa expired she was heavily pregnant and she was unable to travel back to the DRC. She was also not able to apply for a new visa.
She subsequently gave birth in Grahamstown. The couple then applied to have the birth of their daughter registered but the application was refused on numerous occasions. This led to Naki and Ndovya to make an application to the court to provide assistance in having the birth of their child registered.
The court proceedings
In the court proceedings, the Centre for Child Law was granted leave to join the proceedings as the third respondent.
The main issues that the court had to deal with were whether or not the Births and Deaths Registration Act (BDRA) and its regulations allow the father of a child to register a child’s birth when the mother of the child is an immigrant whose presence in South Africa is not in accordance with law, or where the mother is absent.
The court made reference to the Constitutional Court’s direction that when dealing with matters of statutory interpretation, judicial officers should favour an interpretation that would render the provision constitutionally compliant. To this end, the High Court found that section 9 and 10 of the BDRA were constitutionally valid as they did not stipulate which parent had the duty to register the birth. The act did not prevent unmarried fathers from registering the births of their children
In relation to the regulations, the High Court found that requiring an immigrant parent to produce a valid visa or permit for the registration of the birth of a child, did in the present circumstances prevent a father from registering the birth of his child.
Furthermore, regulation 12(1) which only made provision for unmarried mothers to register the births of children, and not unmarried fathers, also prevented unmarried fathers from being able to register the birth of their children.
The court found that it could correct the defects in the regulation by “reading in” words to make the provisions constitutionally compliant.
The High Court relied on the decision of the Constitutional Court in National Coalition which set out the requirements necessary for a court to “read in” words into a provision so as not to encroach on the duties of the legislature.
The court read the words “and available” into certain sub-regulations, making the requirement to submit a permit or visa dependent on its applicability and availability.
The Court also read in the words “or father”, enabling the birth of a child born out of wedlock to be registered by either the father or the mother.
The Court however found other sub-regulations unconstitutional. These are regulations which require that where one parent is not a South African citizen, a certified copy of that parent’s valid passport and visa or permit must accompany the notice of birth, late registration of birth, or registration of a child older than one year. Also that where a child is born out of wedlock, the notice of registration must be made by the mother of the child. As the decision relates to a declaration of invalidity, it still has to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
Why is the case important?
The failure to register the birth of a child has important consequences for the child. Without a birth certificate, a child will not have citizenship, will not be able to register and attend school, apply for government grants, apply for an identity document, or secure employment. All of this constitutes a violation of the rights of the child as enshrined in the Constitution.
The decision in this case has made it easier to register the births of children born of a South African parent and an immigrant parent, and of children who have absent mothers.

Zambia changes passports again

Zambia changes passports again
August 23, 2018 – Belgium News
The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a smokescreen tender advert for the printing of e-passports, in a corruption ridden transaction where the contract has already been given to a Belgian company Semlex closely connected to home affairs minter Stephen Kampyongo and state house aide Kaiser Zulu.
According to the Mast, the ministry is in the process of soliciting competing proposals for the supply, delivery and installation of the state-of-the-art equipment to issue electronic passports to eligible citizens and replace the current machines readable passports.
According to a Ministry of Home Affairs public private partnership tender request No. MHA/ORD/NCS/01/2018:technical and financial proposals for the the e-passports production through a public private partnership signed by Dr. Mulenga Chileshe the general nature of the unsolicited proposal identifies the possibility of supplying equipment for the management of a new biometric electronic passport for Zambia.

SA arrivals: Key markets decline

SA arrivals: Key markets decline
29 Aug 2018 – Tourism Update

South Africa’s overseas visitors declined slightly in June, but remain consistent with seasonal trends.
Statistics SA’s latest tourism and migration report, reflecting arrival numbers for June, reveals that South Africa saw marginal growth of 2.8% from June last year. However, overseas numbers in fact declined, reflecting a drop of 1.7% year-to-date arrivals.
The top ten countries remain the same as May, with their positions in the top ten having shifted slightly. Important to note is the increase in arrivals from key source markets such as USA and UK, which are consistently the top two countries. The top ten countries and their percentage changes from the same time last year are:
1. USA (up 1.2%)
2. UK (up 3.2%)
3. Germany (down 12.8%)
4. Australia (down 9.1%)
5. India (down 8.5%)
6. France (down 8.7%)
7. China (up 9.1%)
8. Brazil (down 10.6%)
9. Netherlands (down 0.9%)
10. Canada (down 0.7%)
Overall, European numbers have declined, showing 2% less than the same time last year. North America has shown a small amount of growth, up 0.7%.
An examination of the trends over the last four years shows an expected seasonal decline around June. Comparatively, although 2018 is down slightly from 2017, it continues to reflect the seasonal shifts seen in previous years. The graph below reflects the overall numbers of the last four years to illustrate this.

The Chinese market continues to grow. Last month, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom made special note of this during a pre-recorded interview screened at the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association conference. Hanekom encouraged South Africans to welcome Chinese tourists, even suggesting learning Mandarin to tap into the market more effectively.
The Portuguese market continues to decline, reflecting a 21% decline in numbers from 2017, compared with the year-to-date figures for this year. Conversely, the Argentinian arrivals have grown a remarkable 30% this year, adding to strong numbers from South America which has grown to 57 051 arrivals so far this year, 6.7% higher than last year.
South Africa’s largest source market overall continues to be SADC countries, making up 73% of all arrivals and 98% of the total arrivals from Africa. With 3.7 million arrivals this year, this is a 4.3% increase in year-to-date numbers from last year. South Africa’s neighbouring countries provided the most visitors with the largest being Zimbabwe followed by Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini (Swaziland) and Botswana. Angola has shown the most growth, up 22% from the same month last year, followed by Malawi which is up 10%.
Consistent with these numbers, the report indicates that the majority of visitors to SA arrived by road (74.8%). Air transport made up a quarter of all arrivals with the majority of those (74%) using OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg as their port of entry. Overseas arrivals to Cape Town International Airport remain consistent at 21% of total arrivals.

SA to ease visa regime for China

SA to ease visa regime for China
24 Aug 2018 – Tourism Update

SA’s easing of visa requirements for Chinese travelers is expected to come into effect in October.
In July, the South African government signed several agreements with China, including a visa agreement that is likely to come into effect October 1.
Malesela Leso, Deputy Director: Bilateral Relations & Co-Operation Asia and Australasia at the National Department of Tourism, confirmed with Tourism Update that South Africa was about to ease visa requirements for Chinese travelers, however have not yet been implemented.
Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday, China’s Ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian, said his office and South Africa’s Departments of International Relations and Home Affairs were finalising the easing of visa requirements, as agreed by the two heads of state.
Leso, who reiterated this, said once all legal requirements had been dealt with, and went according to plan, the new visa regime could come into effect on October 1.
The reciprocated agreement will see both South Africans and Chinese travellers requiring one visa, valid for five years with multiple entries allowed for up to 90 days each time.
“This will encourage people to travel between the two countries and learn from each other, and South Africa is the best tourism destination in the world,” added Songtian.
As recently reported, Chinese arrivals to South Africa showed a decline. According to Sisa Ntshona, CEO of South African Tourism, the visa regime had been holding South Africa back.
“China is the world’s second-largest source economy,” commented Ntshona. With the new Chinese visa allowances in place, SA’s Chinese arrivals will hopefully begin to show positive growth, further unlocking the potential of this major source market.

Court ends mother’s 12-year battle with Home Affairs

25.8.2018 – Citizen
The department was ordered to register her son as a South African citizen, and remove the names of two unknown children registered under her name.
The High Court in Pretoria has ended a mother’s 12-year-long battle by ordering the department of home affairs to register her son’s birth and declaring the boy a South African citizen.
The department unlawfully refused to register Wandile’s (not his real name) birth, despite the fact that he was born in SA and had a clear right to be recognized as a citizen, leaving him effectively stateless.
Two unknown children had been registered under his mother’s name at home affairs. One child was born a month after Wandile and home affairs refused to register two children born within a month of each other.
Despite the mother’s official complaint to remove the other children from her name, home affairs had failed to investigate or to rectify the matter since 2007 and Wandile remained unregistered, despite being a South African citizen by law.
After his school refused to allow him to continue attending without a birth certificate, his mother was forced to send him to live with his grandmother in KwaZulu-Natal, where a school was willing to accept him.
The Statelessness Project of Lawyers for Human rights (LHR) eventually intervened and helped the mother to bring an application to force home affairs to recognise her son’s right to citizenship and birth registration.
LHR’s Liesl Muller said Wandile could now finally return to Gauteng to live with his mother.
She said LHR was concerned that home affairs’ lack of effective service delivery and lack of response to queries was rendering children unnecessarily stateless.
“These cases illustrate the urgent need for an independent complaints body [an ombudsman] for the department of home affairs.
“According to the constitution, every child has the right to a name and a nationality and the right not to be deprived of citizenship.
“Home affairs has a long way to go in realizing these rights,” Muller said.