Browsing "Citizenship"

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.

Namibia: Home Affairs Drowning Under Fake Marriages

New Era – 09 June 2018
Windhoek — The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration yesterday revealed it continues to battle the so-called ‘marriages of convenience’, mostly involving foreigners seeking to live in Namibia.
Briefing Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who paid a familiarisation visit to the ministry yesterday, acting Chief Immigration Officer of the Department of Immigration Control and Citizenship Nehemia Nghishekwa said such marriages often end on a messy note because of failure to keep promises between those ‘married’.
“These are people who come to Namibia and get married on a contract basis and we only come to know about it when there is a default in payments by the partner,” he said.
The PM also heard that the ministry does not have accurate birth and death statistics – such as causes of deaths – but said it is working on a new system that it believes would be a game changer.
Home Affairs Director of Civil Registration Anette Bayer-Forsingdal briefed Kuugongelwa-Amadhila on this, saying it was due the fact that everything is done manually and typically when one collects data manually it would mostly likely contain inaccuracies.
“This is because everything is manually recorded from the ministry of health and only collect data from the ministry of health, not from private doctors, that is the problem,” she said.
However, she said the ministry is currently working on a new system to capture this important information.
Nghishekwa said during the last financial year the ministry managed to install a new electronic management system at port of entries and also managed to introduce the e-passport.
He said that during the year under review the country received just over two million visitors, while just under two million left Namibia.
He said despite limited resources his department managed to remove 1,595 prohibited immigrants from the country.
Also, Nghishekwa said the ministry managed to print 77,873 passports, issued 6,408 work visas, 37,820 temporary work visas, 1,128 permanent residence permits and just over 6,000 student visas.
He said currently the country has over 7,684 asylum seekers and refugees with the majority being from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He said that refugees that are recognised are issued with identification documents and currently the ministry is working on the introduction of a refugee passport.
Also, he said, there are 922 Namibian refugees in Botswana, which has given those refugees two months to leave the country.
He said the Botswana government has invited Namibia to a meeting in that country on Thursday in that regard.

Slow passport control costs Cape Town airport millions in revenue

June 8, 2018 – Cape Town ETC

Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) has lost R25-million in retail revenue from duty-free shopping because of sluggish passport control and a shortage of staff.
At the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture this week, Western Cape spokesperson for Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture and a Member of Parliament, Beverley Schäfer, said that the average waiting time for inbound international passengers at passport control at CTIA currently sits at 27 minutes and 38 seconds, far above the international best practice average of 10 minute.
Schäfer continued to explain that these delays are caused by the reduced numbers of immigration officers employed at CTIA, coming down from 82 to 68. CTIA has also seen an increase in inbound flights by 750 000 since 2015. She confirmed that the Home Affairs’ passport control delays are causing an overall loss of R25-million in duty-free shopping.
Schäfer also stated that during peak hours, the Department of Home Affairs opens only five counters out of the available 18 to process, on average, 35 000 passengers per day, causing a bottleneck at passport control which causes delays for passengers and cripples airport activity.
Schäfer also expressed concern that the neglect of the airport’s duty-free shopping experience is largely affecting economic activity and threatening thousands of jobs in the Western Cape. She said she will shortly be addressing the diminishing numbers of Home Affairs officials employed at the CTIA with the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture, Alan Winde.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has promised to raise concerns with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) regarding the number of immigration officials employed.
The official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for the Western Cape and its capital Cape Town, Wesgro, has also joined the conversation stating that CTIA experienced a 20% growth in international terminal passengers, succeeding the world average of 8%.
The current growth of the Cape Town International Airport is expected to secure more than 150 000 international inbound seats from three new flight routes in 2018 alone. The delays and dwindling numbers of Home Affairs officials are expected to greatly affect this growth and threaten thousands of employees within the tourism and retail sectors as well as discourage the return of international visitors to the Mother City.

‘This is a national embarrassment': Cape Town refugee office under fire again

05 June 2018 – Times Live
As he waited outside the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office on Tuesday‚ a man seeking to renew his permit said conditions at the office had deteriorated over the 14 years he had been in South Africa.
“It’s pathetic‚” said the man‚ who declined to give his name.
He was one of dozens of people queueing at Customs House on the Foreshore‚ which has been at the centre of a legal battle over the Department of Home Affairs’ decision to close the office to new applicants in 2012.
Last September‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the department to reopen the office. The Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal‚ telling home affairs to have the office fully reopened by March 31. It has yet to do so.
The DA home affairs spokesman‚ Haniff Hoosen‚ who visited the office on Tuesday‚ said it was a mess‚ with unsuitable office equipment‚ poor facilities‚ long queues and lack of security.
“There are… hundreds of people sitting in there‚ all of whom are very desperate and under a lot of pressure and frustrated by waiting for so many hours‚” he said. “That’s a recipe for disaster.”
Hoosen said Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba should answer to the parliamentary portfolio committee for why the office had not yet fully reopened to new applicants.
Home affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said the department was working with the Department of Public Works to find a suitable building. “Home Affairs doesn’t have the power to go and occupy a building‚” he said.
Hoosen pointed to other issues with the refugee office‚ saying its treatment of refugee and asylum seekers is xenophobic.
“The manner in which our government is treating people‚ from especially African countries‚ is just really‚ really sad‚ and it’s an embarrassment to who we are‚” he said.
His assessment was echoed by Tendai Bhiza‚ who came to South Africa from Zimbabwe in 2004 to seek asylum. She said at one point she had to make up excuses to get into the building‚ then had to sneak around until she found the proper office.
“For us to enter that door‚ it was like a gold mine‚” said Bhiza‚ who now works with the NGO People Against Suffering‚ Oppression and Poverty‚ which campaigns for the rights of refugees‚ asylum seekers and immigrants.
Tshwete criticised Hoosen for taking his concerns to the media before going through the portfolio committee.
“If we really want to make a long-lasting solution to the problem‚ let’s make progress on the real issues‚” he said.

Automated biometric ID to speed up processing at ports of entry

22 May 2018 – Tourism Update

The Automated Biometric ID System will see quicker response times at ports of entry in SA.
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has launched its Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) which is expected to enable quicker response times at ports of entry.
Speaking at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town on May 16, Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, commented: “This modern IT system will integrate with other relevant systems, inside and outside Home Affairs, to allow for one holistic view of the status of the clients. It will serve as a single source for biometric authentication of citizens and non-citizens across state institutions and private sector clients.”
Minister said the system brought several benefits, including quicker response times at ports of entry to capture and verify a traveller’s identity and an improved border control.
The ABIS project was initiated in January 2016 with the aim of replacing the Home Affairs National Identity System (HANIS), which is manually operated and seemingly outdated, according to the DHA.
The Minister said one of the major challenges with HANIS was the imminent collapse of the over 20-year-old biometrics database, which left the department with no choice but to conduct a technology upgrade.
“The ABIS project will be rolled out in phases, over a five-year period. Among others, implementation will entail migration of the current HANIS data (fingerprints and facial recognition) to the new ABIS, with improved functionality, installation and configuration of ABIS infrastructure and building of system functionalities,” said Gigaba.
Haniff Hoosen, DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs said that he supports the digitalisation taking place at Home Affairs, as it increases security. According to Hoosen, the ABIS has a greater inter-face and is an overall improvement.
Jose Cruz, National Executive Client Services Manager of HRG Rennies Travel, feels that the new biometric identification system will not afford immigration more capacity to deal with international travellers. He argues that it will only add yet another step for travellers to get through airport gates, thus contributing to, rather than reducing, traffic.
Cruz recently had a group of Nigerian travellers in transit at OR Tambo International Airport (Ortia) who were seemingly disgruntled about the lengthy queues due to the amount of time that the finger scanning process was taking. He adds that the ongoing problem regarding the lack of staff at Ortia does not help.
Hoosen however says that despite initial delays during the systems introduction at Ortia, things seem to be running smoothly at present.