Archive from October, 2018

Zimbabweans in dilemma over SA permits

Zimbabweans in dilemma over SA permits

Southern Times – Oct 08,2018
The Zimbabwe Embassy is engaging South Africa’s Home Affairs department to ensure that all those eligible for permits in that country access them by end of this month, the embassy’s consular-general, Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro has said.
Zimbabwe and South Africa have a special agreement under the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) that allows Zimbabweans to work in the country.
More than 169 000 ZEP beneficiaries are still being processed after the South African government announced a renewal of the permits last year.
Mukonoweshuro urged Zimbabweans residing in South Africa to be patient as they were protocols to be observed before the issuance of permits.
“The process of issuing out a permit is not instant, it is long. There is a lot of verification that takes place before the permit is issued. The greatest challenge we have been facing so far is that a large number of people have expired passports. At one point we had 1000 people with expired passports and they were told to address that first before they can be issued with passports.
“The process also includes the verification of each and every individual who applied for a permit to ensure they do not have any criminal record. With the high number of people who applied, the process is bound to take long,” he said.
“The ambassador and myself are going to be meeting with the South African Home Affairs Department to discuss this issue and hopefully by end of this month the process of issuing out permits will be concluded,” he said.
The delay in issuing out permits has reportedly left a large number of Zimbabweans, especially teachers, stranded as they cannot conduct any work in the country without permits.
The objectives of the permits are to regularise Zimbabweans residing in South Africa illegally, curb the deportation of Zimbabweans who were in SA illegally, reduce pressure on the asylum seeker and refugee regime, and provide amnesty to Zimbabweans who obtained SA documents fraudulently.
The deputy South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Linda Maso, said in as far as they were concerned the process of permits was going on smoothly.
“From what l know, the process is going on well because other people have been issued with permits already. I think the delay will be related to the volume of applications that were received. The process takes long so we hope that all those who applied will be addressed as soon as possible,” he said.
The Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP) was introduced in 2014.
The ZSP allowed permit holders to live, work, conduct business and study in South Africa, for the duration of the permit, which was valid until 31 December, 2017.
A large number of citizens from across the region were given an opportunity to legally contribute to the national and regional development of South Africa and SADC.
Over the years, many citizens from various parts of the region have relocated to South Africa for numerous reasons, chief among them to seek employment.
South Africa has the second largest economy in Africa and it remains one of the most important trading partners for most countries on the continent.
According to the Embassy of South Africa, there are requirements that one needs to meet before acquiring a permit and a visa to visit, study or work in the country.
“A visitor’s visa which is for international travellers (citizens of other countries) is issued to people who wish to visit the country on a temporary basis for tourism or business purposes for a period of 90 days or less.
“The visa simply indicates that your application has been reviewed at a South African embassy, mission or consulate and that the consular officer has determined you are eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose,” says the embassy.
Visas are issued for a fee that is payable in different currencies in different countries.
The South African government issues out visas to foreigners who seek to visit their family or friends and also for tourism purposes.
A visa can be issued for a spouse to join a spouse who is in South Africa on a work or study visa and for one to join parents who are in South Africa on work or study visas.
Visas can also be issued for study purposes, charitable or voluntary activities, research, conferences, to work in the production of a movie or show, for medical purposes and sport events.
For one to acquire a visa, they require a passport or travel document valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of their intended visit.
“Your passport must have at least one unused page for entry. A completed Form BI-84 (application for a visa), payment of the prescribed fee, statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit, two colour passport photographs,” says the South African Embassy.
The country offers 12 types of temporary residence visas – the work visa, the general work visa, business visa, critical skills visa and intra-company transfer visa.
There is the corporate visa, study visa, exchange visa, retired person’s visa, relative’s visa and medical treatment visa.
The work visa requires one to apply and submit a duly completed application form signed by the applicant, a passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of intended visit, and a police clearance.

Constitutional Court Rules on Refugee Matter – Can a Refugee apply for temporary or permanent residence

On Tuesday, 9 October 2018, at 10h00, the Constitutional Court handed down judgment in the application for leave to appeal against an order of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA). The SCA overturned a decision of the High Court of South Africa, Western Cape Division, Cape Town (High Court) which declared the Immigration Directive 21 of 2015 (the Directive) issued by the Department of Home Affairs inconsistent with the Constitution, invalid and set it aside.
In 2008 the Director-General of Home Affairs issued Circular 10 of 2008 (the Circular) which confirmed a court order to the effect that asylum seekers and refugees, in terms of the Refugees Act 130 of 1998, were allowed to apply for visas or permits under the Immigration Act 13 of 2002. The Circular was withdrawn in February 2016 when the Directive was issued.
The first applicant, Mr Tashriq Ahmed, was an attorney specialising in immigration law and the legal representative of the second to fourth applicants, Ms Fahme, Mr Swinda, and Mr J Ahmed respectively, who were all asylum seekers who had made applications for asylum in terms of the Refugees Act. Their applications for asylum were denied. Ms Fahme attempted to apply, under the Immigration Act, for a visitor’s visa as her spouse and children were legally in South Africa; however an official of the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) refused to accept her application, citing the Directive as the reason. Mr Swinda and Mr J Ahmed both applied, under the Immigration Act, for critical skills visas, and both applications were declined.
The applicants approached the High Court seeking an order declaring the Directive inconsistent with the Constitution and to have it set aside. The High Court, on 21 September 2016, handed down judgment and held that the Directive was arbitrary and liable to be set it aside as it was irrational and not borne out of a proper interpretation of the provisions in the context of the two Acts as a whole. With regard to Ms Fahme, the Court held that her right to dignity had been violated. In respect of Mr Swinda and Mr Ahmed, the Court held that it could find no reason why an unsuccessful asylum seeker should be barred from applying for temporary work rights if they met the requirements and that this interpretation better promotes the objects and purposes of the Immigration Act.
Dissatisfied with the outcome, the respondents approached the SCA. On 26 September 2017, the SCA held that the High Court had erred in its interpretation of the Immigration Act and that an application for a visa by a foreigner must be made outside the Republic and not within South Africa. The SCA held that the High Court’s conclusion was based on an erroneous interpretation of the Immigration Act and that asylum seekers are subject to the Refugees Act which is a separate regime to that of the Immigration Act. As such it upheld the appeal and the High Court order was set aside.
In this Court the applicants submitted that the provisions of the Immigration Act that relate to temporary and permanent residence permits referred only to “foreigners” and did not expressly exclude asylum seekers. The applicants averred that the fact that section 27(d) of the Immigration Act makes express provision for refugees to apply for permanent residence five years after their recognition as a refugee did not mean that an asylum seeker or a refugee may not be eligible for any other permit in terms of the Immigration Act. In addition, they argued that the Directive is unlawful as it is ultra vires (beyond its legal power or authority) and unjustifiably limited the right to dignity of asylum seekers with familial relations in the country
The respondents supported the conclusion of the SCA. The respondents submitted that the Directive was consistent with the legislative and regulatory framework of the Refugees Act and Immigration Act. They further contended that even if the Directive was invalid, the officials of the Department had no discretion to accept and consider applications made within the borders of the country.
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This Court held that to the extent that the Directive prohibited the second applicant, and similarly placed asylum seekers from applying for permanent residence permits while inside the Republic of South Africa, it was declared inconsistent with Regulation 23 of the Immigration Regulations, 2014 and invalid. The Court further held that, to the extent that the Directive imposed a blanket ban on asylum seekers from applying for temporary residence visas without provision for an exemption application under section 31(2)(c), it was inconsistent with the Immigration Act and invalid.
Order Granted :
To the extent that Immigration Directive 21 of 2015, issued by the Director General of the Department of Home Affairs on 3 February 2016, imposes a blanket ban on asylum seekers from applying for visas without provision for an exemption application under section 31(2)(c) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, it is declared inconsistent with the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 and invalid.
To the extent that Immigration Directive 21 of 2015, issued by the Director – General of the Department of Home Affairs on 3 February 2016, prohibits asylum seekers from applying for permanent residence permits while inside the Republic of South Africa, it is declared inconsistent with regulation 23 of the Immigration Regulations, 2014 published under Government Notice R413 in Government Gazette 37697 of 22 May 2014 and invalid.

Malawi cuts cost of tourist visas and announces e-visa

7 October 2018 – Tourism Update
Malawi plans to cut the cost of tourist visas and roll out a tourist visa application process online in a bid to boost tourism.
Isaac Kapotola, Malawi’s Director at the Department of Tourism, said talks had been held with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services (DICS) to reconsider the cost of visas.
“The tourist visa fee will be reduced from $75 to $50, which is in line with what our colleagues in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania are charging,” said Kapotola.
DICS also announced that, by the end of November, Malawi would have a tourist e-visa service, enabling tourists to apply for visas and, where applicable, pay for the visa online.

Malawi’s tourism is growing, with the country currently in the process of rebranding itself as a Big Five safari destination, expanding its marketed tourism offering beyond Lake Malawi.

KZN government cracks down on illegal foreign drivers

IOL / 6 October 2018,

Transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda and Mayor Zandile Gumede talk to Metro Police officers during the launch of Transport Month in the city yesterday. Zanele Zulu African News Agency (ANA)
Durban – Forty-seven companies that hire an excessive number of foreign nationals have been identified by the Transport Department and are being dealt with.
This was according to Transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda at the launch of Transport Month in the city.
He said the department had visited some of these companies and would visit others soon. Kaunda said labour law stipulated that employers could import skills not available in the country.
“What we found is that many companies did this without authorisation from the Department of Labour,” he said.
The Daily News reported earlier this year that 62 truck drivers were arrested for blockading the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg, complaining about companies hiring foreigners as truck drivers.
A special operation was in the pipeline where the Transport, Labour and Home Affairs departments would work together in swooping on truck operators who hire an excessive number of foreigners, said Kaunda.
Train violence was another issue being addressed. Kaunda admitted there was a problem with ageing infrastructure. He said some trains dated as far back as 1956.
“We ask people to be patient, even with the little service that they are receiving. We will not lie and say that this old infrastructure will be fixed within a year,” he said.
Last month angry uMlazi train commuters torched cars at the J-section train station in the township. The damage resulted in train operations being stopped on the uMlazi and KwaMashu routes, the biggest in the city.
Kaunda added that government workers had a reputation of being lazy. He said there was a perception that people who worked for the government had made it in life and stopped working hard when they worked for the state. Kaunda said some of these people spent their days doing nothing and provided poor services to the public. “We get criticised for lazy work,” Kaunda said.
The poor work ethic and corruption needed to be addressed, he said.
Kaunda had also conducted raids at flats in the Point area with the police looking for drugs. He said some people there had received tip-offs which could only have come from corrupt police officers. This also needed to be addressed.
Daily News

We have met with tourism sector to clear up visa concerns, says Hanekom

Oct 06 2018 – City Press
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has met industry leaders over their concerns that changes to the visa regime, announced by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in September, were vague and unclear.
Hanekom acknowledged there was a “little bit of misunderstanding” among industry members over amendments to the rule that required travellers to SA to produce documentation proving parental consent for travel, “perhaps because of the way it was communicated”.
The policy had been widely criticised by the industry, and Gigaba had announced that regulations would be relaxed.
Minors who are foreign nationals will no longer require a copy of their birth certificate and consent from both parents to enter the country, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said.
Gigaba added that proof of parental permission would only be required in high-risk situations. He said, however, that it was still strongly recommended to carry these documents in cases where grandparents or one parent alone were travelling with the child.
This, the tourism industry said, created confusion.
Gigaba’s changes were released days after President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled an economic stimulus package, which included a promise to make SA more attractive to travellers.
Hanekom said that the visa regime amendments, which will be gazetted before the end of October, would bring SA’s travelling minors policy in line with countries such as the UK, who, according to Hanekom, say “it would be useful” for travelling minors to have proof of parental consent.
Child trafficking shouldn’t be dismissed
“Combatting child trafficking shouldn’t be dismissed as an unimportant thing, and at the same time it shouldn’t act as a disincentive [to tourism],” Hanekom said, speaking on the sidelines of the Jobs Summit in Midrand on Friday.
The challenge now lies in implementing the changes to the visa regime and training immigration officials, ahead of the festive season, he added.
In September, Gigaba also announced that visa waivers would be extended to several countries including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran, the State of Palestine, Belarus, Georgia and Cuba.
Visa requirements for the massive tourism markets of India and China would also be simplified, he said.
Hanekom stressed the importance of ease of access with an e-visa to SA being piloted in New Zealand saying that it makes a “very big difference” to tourism numbers.
According to data from Statistics SA in 2016, tourism contributed 2.9% directly to gross domestic product. This was higher than the agricultural sector, with tourism employing one in every 23 people, and low barriers of entry into the sector.

What’s going on with Home Affairs?

What’s going on with Home Affairs?
7 October 2018 – Randfontein Herald

How much longer is it going to take before the issue is resolved?
It has been two weeks since Randfontein Home Affairs went offline.
The reason they give is cable theft, which Telkom is currently trying to resolve.
Surely it doesn’t take two weeks to resolve such an issue? People are coming from as far as Buccleuch in Sandton, which is not around the corner, to fetch their passports or smart ID cards.
How much longer is it going to take before the issue is resolved? I don’t even see anyone from Telkom anywhere near Home Affairs fixing or replacing any cables.
Can one imagine the backlog Home Affairs is going to be sitting with, but they won’t even work overtime or Saturdays to try to clear the backlog.
This is really frustrating

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

To stop Italy’s xenophobic treatment of refugees, the UN should first hold Australia accountable
QZ September 30, 2018
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.
To be sure, the UN agencies for refugees and human rights have repeatedly condemned Australia’s policy, calling it everything from “immensely harmful” to “torture.” Such alarms, however, have not resulted in sanctions—either multilateral or bilateral. The US won’t allow the UN Security Council, where as a permanent member it wields veto power, to impose sanctions against its close ally.
In short, the country’s actions have been tolerated without much ado—positioning Australia, like other Western countries, essentially above the (international) law. And if Australia has been getting away with it for years, why can’t Italy, or Hungary, or others?
“Instead of blindly following Australia’s harmful approach, countries should be calling Australia out,” says Pearson.
An occasion to do so will arise in the days ahead when the UN General Assembly discusses, among other issues, the treatment and handling of refugees.