Archive from September, 2018
Sep 30, 2018 - Uncategorized    No Comments

To stop Italy’s xenophobic treatment of refugees, the UN should first hold Australia accountable

Since Italy’s government�`run by a Five Star Movement-Lega
coalition�`was inaugurated on June 1, things have changed rather
dramatically in the handling of migrants and refugees coming from
Libya to Italy.
Matteo Salvini�`the vice prime minister, home affairs minister, and de
facto leader of the government, though the prime minister is
officially Giuseppe Conte�`remains very clear: Regardless of the legal
or human implications, he is determined to keep his xenophobic
campaign promises, and enforce a hard line against migrants.
In the past few months, Italy’s harbors have been closed to rescue
boats, and search-and-rescue programs have been ostracized. The
government has hailed these developments as remarkable successes.
About 70% of Italians support its actions when it comes to
immigration. Migrants (including minors) have drowned in plain sight
(link in Italian) and languished for days in rescue boats while
battling serious health conditions. Some have been sent back to Libya
to face inhumane conditions, including concentration camps and
possibly being sold as slaves.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched an
investigation into Italy’s treatment of migrants and refugees, leading
Salvini to threaten defunding of the United Nations.
Italy’s government is toying with serious violations of both
international and Italian law. Salvini and some of his compatriots are
under investigation for instigating racial hatred, but they haven’t
budged; in fact, one of the prosecutors who investigated Salvini has
been sued by his allies. Indeed Salvini has used the lawsuits against
him as an opportunity to reiterate (employing the Trumpian motto
“Italians first”) that he intends to “defend Italy from the invasion”
of foreigners and would proudly face an investigation for that.
No way
Salvini’s approach, he has declared, has a clear source of
inspiration. It’s Australia’s “No way” policy, which involves
intercepting migrant vessels heading to Australia and deporting their
passengers to offshore detention centers on remote Pacific islands.
The Australian government has been transporting refugee seekers to
such facilities since 2001. Two centers on Nauru and Manus islands
have been operating as effective concentration camps for hundreds of
asylum seekers since 2012. Breaking international treaties it’s
ratified, Australia refuses to relocate such individuals within its
borders.
“Australia’s offshore processing policies have brought misery and
suffering to 1,600 people who remain trapped on remote Pacific
islands, the vast majority of whom have been found to be refugees,”
says Elaine Pearson, Human Rights Watch’s Australia director.
Investigations have found cruelty and human-rights violations to be
commonplace in the detention centers, she notes.
Australia’s policies, which its authorities like to call “harsh but
effective,” have led to attempted suicide by children as young as 10,
and adults killing themselves out of desperation.
The acts of keeping migrants in captivity and refusing asylum seekers
entrance into a country�`as Australia has been doing, and Italy aspires
to do�`are not compatible with the 1951 Convention Relating on the
Status of Refugees, a UN treaty that builds upon the 14th article of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which establishes the right
to seek asylum from persecution in other countries.
Yet Australia, which Pearson calls “a world leader in how to be cruel
to refugees,” has been able to get away with its behavior with no
concrete repercussions, even when documents emerged showing horrific
abuse conducted in its imprisonment camps.

WARNING: Do not tell clients birth certificate regs have been relaxed

WARNING: Do not tell clients birth certificate regs have been relaxed
Tourism Update – 27 September 2018

Is history repeating itself with unabridged birth certificates?
South Africa faces an embarrassment of spectacular proportions as publicity about the new birth certificate regime gives the impression that immigration officials are relaxing requirements. Irrespective of what the officials might do in SA, it is at airline check-in desks overseas where things will implode. The publicity could lead to tourists in large numbers arriving at airports and being denied boarding by airlines, who have to follow the letter of the law as gazetted in 2014, until it is actually amended.
The tourism industry and its stakeholders have expressed disappointment at the failure of the South African government to effect any real change to the unabridged birth certificate (UBC) regulation, which remains firmly in place, according to gazetted law.
In an article published by Tourism Update on February 12, 2016, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) “recommended a dispensation in terms of which travellers would be ‘strongly advised’ to bring along proof of the relationship between the child and the parent or guardian, such as an unabridged birth certificate, or equivalent document with both parents’ particulars.”
Sound familiar? That’s because the statement made by then Director General of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Mkuseli Apleni, and was regurgitated on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, by current Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba: “The key changes will be that rather than requiring all foreign national travelling minors to carry documentation proving parental consent for the minor to travel, we will rather ‘strongly recommend’ that travellers carry this documentation.”
The then spokesperson of the DHA, Mayihlome Tshwete, at the time (February, 2016) said that in order to change this requirement, amendments needed to be made to certain sections of the regulations. He said this process, which included setting up an advisory board, was under way, and would probably be concluded in the next three months.
That was 32 months ago.
Gigaba said in his announcement that his department would issue an international travel advisory before the end of October 2018 after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board (IAB). This was echoed by Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, in a statement on September 26 saying that the amendment to the Regulations would be gazetted by Gigaba for information in October 2018. “From the end of October 2018, when both parents travel with a minor, no additional documentation will be required,” said Hanekom.
Until the regulation amendment is gazetted, however, airlines remain bound by the regulation currently in force, and foreign nationals travelling with children will still need to have proof of relationship with the child and/or parental consent to travel.

(12)(a) Where parents are travelling with a child, such parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
With history seeming to repeat itself, and mirrored statements made in 2016 and 2018, the industry may rightfully believe UBCs could remain in place for another two years:
2016: …airline check-in staff no longer have to ensure that foreign passengers are carrying a UBC when travelling with a minor – statement made by Home Affairs, 2016.
2018: Foreign nationals travelling to South Africa will no longer be required to have unabridged certificates for their minor children upon arrival in South Africa – statement made by Home Affairs, 2018.
In the refreshed regime, when it happens, immigration officers will be trained to detect “high-risk” individuals at the gates, says Gigaba. But former DHA spokesperson Tshwete tweeted that putting the power of discretion into immigration officers’ hands would be counter-productive.
CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA), Chris Zweigenthal, commented at the time in 2016: “Until there is an official change to the regulation, the requirement to carry a UBC is still the status quo” adding that he would advise people to not take a chance – bring everything.

Home Affairs confirms it’s sharing data with the SAPS – this is the information that is being stored

Home Affairs confirms it’s sharing data with the SAPS – this is the information that is being stored
r26 September 2018 – Biztech
Minister of home affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has confirmed that his department’s information and communication technology system is synchronised with the South African Police Service’s systems for biometric identification.
In a recent parliamentary Q&A session, Gigaba said that the SAPS have access to the National Identification System (HANIS) system via the interface between Integrated Justice System (IJS) and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
“The DHA has developed a ‘DHA-IJS hub’ used by the SAPS for verification or identification of SAPS clients whose biometrics are stored on HANIS,” he said.
“If the person of interest’s biometrics are stored in HANIS, the following fields are returned as requested”:
• Name;
• Facial Image;
• Contact Information;
• Birth Date;
• Birth Country Code;
• Living Indicator;
• Death Date;
• Gender Code;
• Marital Status Code;
• Marital Type Code;
• Marriage Date;
• Person Identification;
• Residential Address;
• Postal Address.
New ABIS system
In May, Gigaba announced the launch of the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS).
The new identification system will be powered by a sustainable technology and will offer a single view of citizens across the life cycle and their status change at various stages.
Home Affairs said that the ABIS will act as a fundamental baseline for the broader National Identification System (HANIS) and will consolidate South African and foreign nationals’ data into a single base.
“The grand plan seeks to integrate HANIS and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) into an automated system through ABIS with the capability to identify and verify people through fingerprints, facial recognition and IRIS technology,” it said.
According to the department’s 2018/2019 annual performance plan, it expects the AFIS data migration into ABIS to be completed within the 2018/19 financial year, with iris and palm-print recognition capabilities beginning to come online by 2019/20.

Why Gigaba’s humiliating visa climbdown does not go far enough

Business Insider SA – Sep 26, 2018,
• SA’s messaging to tourists and business travellers remains opaque.
• New measures need swift implementation.
• More is needed to loosen SA’s ‘petrified capital’.
________________________________________
If ever there was a perfect example of South Africa requiring a burning platform before taking decisive action on the economy, it’s encapsulated in Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s eventual climbdown on some of the more damaging elements of the destructive visa regime he implemented on his first sojourn at that department.
It has taken Gigaba three years to implement just some changes to the visa regime which, as tourism and business lobby groups have pointed out from the start, are damaging to the economy.
The amendments, if anything, serve to muddy the waters even further when it comes to visa requirements.
The new measures – which are touted as enabling regular business travellers to get extended visas, reducing requirements on citizens from selected countries to get access to SA, and finally the dropping of the ludicrous demand that the parents of foreign children carry additional documentation in addition to their passports to get access to the country – will require the retraining of legions of civil servants who are barely attuned to the last set of maddening rules.
It’s impossible to quantify exactly how much damage has been done to tourism over the past three years as government messaging around visa requirements varied between the murky to the destructive.
Some 13,000 families are reported to have been turned away from boarding flights to South Africa because they didn’t have the appropriate documentation demanded by South Africa’s Home Affairs department. It’s unclear how many more would simply have made alternative travel choices rather than be lumbered with the inconvenience of restrictive rules.
The effort taken to visit South Africa has seen the country significantly underperform in a booming global industry, which is currently growing north of 5% a year. Grant Thornton puts growth in tourism numbers to South Africa at half that.
It’s a massive wasted opportunity.
President Cyril Ramaphosa flagged tourism as one of the critical elements of his stimulus plan for the country. There is a direct correlation between an increase in visitor numbers and jobs created in the industry. The tourism industry calculates that one new job is created for every nine additional tourists to the country.
South Africa’s tourism numbers are blurred by the inability of Home Affairs to distinguish between migrant workers who repatriate a large portion of their earnings, and those whose spend goes directly on tourism and domestic consumption. Greater clarity is needed in defining the difference between genuine tourism, business travel and those who travel across borders for work.
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa, while unimpressed with the visa changes, is appealing for their speedy and efficient implementation to ease the burden on travellers this season. The reality is that foreign tourists going to long-haul destinations like South Africa plan significantly in advance and the changes are unlikely to have any real impact on the current tourist season. There is an immediate effect of bad regulation and a lag in repairing the damage it has caused.
Home Affairs’ belligerence on domestic travellers requiring permission to travel out of the country by non-travelling parents and to carry unabridged birth certificates in addition to passports, remains a ridiculous bureaucratic burden for South Africans looking to travel abroad. The decision to force parents to grant permission for every trip was based on fake data of child trafficking from South Africa and remains a serious impediment to travelling families.
There is progress in other areas.
Visitors from China and India will no longer have to travel in person across the vast expanses of their respective countries to apply for visas in person, but will be allowed to use intermediaries. The long overdue introduction of biometric movement control systems at the country’s busiest airports should go some way to reduce congestion on arrival at South African ports of entry. Speed and implementation are of the essence.
Ramaphosa’s planned stimulus package announced on Friday showed that government was coming to terms with the fact that “business as usual” was no longer working. He promised greater clarity not only on tourism, but mining and land reform too.
Ratings agency Fitch, which already has a sub-investment grade rating on South African debt, has expressed reservations about the significance of the measures unveiled by the president last week amidst concerns that Moody’s, the only major ratings agency which retains an investment grade rating on SA, is considering the soundness of its position.
‘Petrified capital’
In his address to the UN in New York this week, the president used the opportunity to quell concerns about policy and the impact of land reform on property rights. The movement on visas, while positive, is hardly the radical overhaul needed to announce South Africa is open for business.
The president has tasked a group of veteran business leaders including former Standard Bank CEO Jacko Maree and the former finance minister and now Old Mutual chairperson, Trevor Manuel, with raising $100bn in foreign direct investment over five years.
Ramaphosa will be hoping that by talking up opportunities for reforms, he will encourage South African CEOs to loosen the purse strings on the so-called “lazy capital” locked into domestic balance sheets. Perhaps we should use the term “petrified capital” which like fossilised wood has turned to stone is immovable and stuck in time.
Our messaging around SA being open for business needs to change quickly if we are to grasp the nettle on an economic rebound.

Bruce Whitfield: From BRICS to BRATS – SA goes from great hope to laughing stock

Business Insider SA – Sep 07, 2018

• South Africa is not Argentina, Venezuela or Turkey, nor China or Brazil, whatever the acronyms imply.
• But the world is seeing us as a place with the kind of regulatory and economic trouble found in some of those countries.
• Still, a currency now a third cheaper than earlier this year has some positives.

If you’re tired of economic acronyms, blame Jim O’Neill.
He started it all.
The British economist saw common traits in four fast-growing economies nearly 20 years ago and thought it a good idea to create an acronym: BRIC for Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
It was never meant to confer an investment status on the group of countries, but then the exchange-traded-fund industry, and managed funds, latched on to the theme. Politicians in BRIC countries grabbed it; it gave them a sense of legitimacy, besides the theme played out well.
For a while.
At the time emerging markets were on nobody’s’ radar and it was a useful way to draw attention to a new trend. And it worked. Even if only really China, and to a lesser extent in recent times India, have brought anything substantive to the party.
South Africa found itself incorporated into grouping despite the fact that we shared few of the characteristics that brought the bigger faster growing partners together.
Since then we have seen lots of people create quite clever acronyms applicable at a moment in time but essentially worthless to any serious investor. During the Greek debt crisis we learned about the PIIGS: Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain – all economies with debt burdens enough to keep the governors of the European Central Bank awake at night.
There was a time around the Soccer World Cup where South Africa was finally showing signs of growth, we looked like we might finally reach our potential and deliver some sustainable growth and create some jobs to tackle some of the issues that are still with us today. Some smart alec, a CEO of a global bank, if memory serves, coined CIVETS: Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, and South Africa. Since then Egypt had the Arab spring, Turkey gained what is basically a dictator, and South Africa very nearly drove itself at full speed into a brick (sadly not BRIC) wall.
Then there were MINT countries: Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey. The idea being they would become the powerhouses. Mexico and Indonesia have seen pockets of performance but Turkey, with its attempts at manipulating policy that makes the sacking of Nhlanhla Nene seem like a Sunday school picnic, and Nigeria’s most recent antics around MTN and harvesting R75 million from the account of Standard Bank’s Nigeria business Stanbic without so much as a guilty plea, is worrying.
Now finally an acronym worthy of the name, BRATS: Brazil, Russia, Argentina, Turkey and yes, South Africa.
Brazil is, like neighbour Argentina, filled with promise but fraught with corruption scandals and economic mismanagement, just as Turkey and Russia have their various issues. Then there is us. It doesn’t matter if we don’t see ourselves in such company; the brutal reality is that this is the way the world sees us right now – and that is not going to help drag us out of recession.
We went into recession this week, as I reported HSBC warned we might a month ago, so you should have been prepared. The Rand has lost a third of its value from its strongest point this year to its weakest point this week. On 26 February the Rand peaked at R11.56/$ and on Thursday closed at R15.40. That makes you as a global citizen considerably poorer than you were at the start of the Ramaphosa presidency.
I prefer to see the glass half full.
It makes SA 33% cheaper to invest in too, and critically for the export industry, 33% more competitive. For tourists too it makes us a third cheaper – if only Malusi Gigaba would get off his high horse on pointless visa regulations.

SA mission woos Japanese investors

SA Gov News , September 24, 2018
The week-long investment mission by South Africa to Japan has been described as successful, with several companies expressing their interest to invest in SA.
The mission was led by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and it included Presidential Investment Envoy, Phumzile Langeni and the CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, Bonang Mohale. The mission was part of government’s investment drive to attract $100 billion worth of investments in the next five years.
“I am pleased that the many Japanese companies we met are keen to invest in South Africa and others are interested in expanding their investments.
“We were able to address the concerns of investors about the South African investment environment and policy. We also assured them that the country’s investment policy development process was aimed at bringing policy certainty in order to enhance the country’s investment climate,” said Invest South Africa acting head Yunus Hoosen on Sunday.
Hoosen said the Japanese companies were also happy to hear about the investment opportunities, programmes and incentives provided by government to attract foreign investors to the country.
The majority of the Japanese companies were impressed by the Special Economic Zones that offer attractive packages to investors to set up plants in the zones located in various parts of South Africa.
Hoosen said he was encouraged by the fact that the Japanese companies are looking at South Africa as a key location in Africa and therefore want to expand and increase their investments to service other parts of the continent.
“Some of the Japanese companies are already cooperating with us in areas such as supplier development, empowerment initiatives and the automotive sector, as well as in the development of our energy, ICTs, telecommunications, water and rail infrastructure.”
The programme of the mission included an investment seminar that was attended by more than 200 potential Japanese investors. – SAnews.gov.za

Zimbabwean teachers in SA unpaid for months

21 September 2018 Groundup
Western Cape Education Department says Home Affairs is to blame
Some Zimbabwean teachers in the Western Cape have gone unpaid for as long as nine months because Home Affairs is dragging its feet when it comes to verifying Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).
“Our problem, however, is that Home Affairs takes their time to verify these [ZEP] work permits. We follow up on numerous occasions,” said Bronagh Hammond, spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
“Home Affairs has confirmed that they are inundated with permit verification. Even if the work permit is barcoded it still needs to be verified. The WCED does sympathise. It is unfair to those educators with valid permits to wait so long. The WCED, however, has to abide by the law,” said Hammond.
Verification is a requirement set by Home Affairs. She said failure to verify a permit, which may later be found to be fraudulent, could result in WCED officials or school principals paying a hefty fine or facing imprisonment. She said Home Affairs had found fraudulent permits.
Jack Mutsvairo, chairperson of the Union of Zimbabwean Educators Western Cape, established in 2016, said the union has 50 members and a WhatsApp group of 200 teachers.
Mutsvairo said the union is irritated by the verification process. “If banks take less than a week to do it, why is the WCED taking months?”
“Some of the Zimbabwean teachers, who come to us claiming they haven’t been paid for between three to nine months, tell sad stories,” said Mutsvairo. Some, he said, have got into debt borrowing money for rent, food and their children’s school fees.
He said some teachers suffering from delays did not engage the union as they feared victimisation if they spoke out about being unpaid.
A man who teaches mathematics and physical science for grades 11 and 12, said he has been without a paycheck since January, awaiting his ZEP. On 3 August he collected his permit and submitted it to the department, but he was still not paid as the department awaited Home Affairs to verify the permit.
On Tuesday, Hammond told GroundUp his permit had been verified and his outstanding salary will be in his account by the end of the week.
Home Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.