Browsing "Citizenship"

Cape’s spectacular growth set to continue with imminent air capacity increase

Cape’s spectacular growth set to continue with imminent air capacity increase
17 Oct 2017 – Tourism Update
Cape Town has seen double digit growth of international arrivals from Germany, Switzerland and Austria in the first half of this year.
Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Edelweiss and Eurowings will be adding or increasing frequency to Cape Town in the coming months.
Announcing the re-introduction of Austrian Airlines to South African skies, Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, said the demand for direct routes to Cape Town from key European markets was growing.
Cape Town has seen double-digit growth of international arrivals from Germany, Switzerland and Austria in the first half of this year.
International visitors from Germany grew by 10% and by 12% from Switzerland while a massive 25% increase in Austrian visitors to the Mother City was recorded.
“In the first half of this year, international arrivals to Cape Town grew by 27%,” said Harris. “If we carry on at this growth rate, in six years Cape Town International Airport will be the same size as OR Tambo International Airport.”
He said the growth in demand was clearly reflected in the expansion of routes such as those announced this week by the Lufthansa Group.
From October 27, 2018, Austrian Airlines will launch two weekly flights from Vienna to Cape Town. This year, from October 29, Lufthansa will increase its direct service from Frankfurt to Cape Town from three to five flights a week and from November 27, Edelweiss will fly from Zurich to Cape Town three times a week.
According to Dr André Schulz, Lufthansa Group Manager for Southern Africa, while the point-of-sale share was still higher on the airline’s Johannesburg routes, the growth and demand for increased services was being seen into Cape Town. “That is why the focus for introducing more capacity remains on Cape Town,” he told Tourism Update.
German, Swiss and Austrian travellers, he said, were increasingly looking for alternative holiday destinations and Cape Town was undoubtedly gaining traction. “It is not all that surprising that so many Europeans are happy to spend their holidays in the Western Cape. The destination offers very real value for money, which is why the various brands and hubs within our group continue to give Cape Town more attention. More flights, more services and more frequencies are on the cards.”
He said with this in mind Eurowings, the Lufthansa Group’s premium low-cost carrier, would introduce its new schedule to Cape Town in the next few weeks.
“The first aircraft will touch down at the Cape Town airport on November 6,” he said. Eurowings will operate a once-a-week flight between Cape Town and Cologne in Germany. According to Harris this opens the Western Cape up to an even greater number of German visitors.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunity and Tourism, told TU improved air access continued to be a focus for the government who were committed to growing tourism numbers even more.
He said a pipeline of projects were in place for 2018 as more routes would be unveiled to destinations around the world.
“In a country where we are battling to find 1% GDP growth, a 27% increase in international arrivals is a phenomenal number. In the upcoming summer season, we are scheduled to see an additional 130 000 international seats flying to our destination, due to the commitment of all airlines from all parts of the world to start operating new routes direct to Cape Town, or to expand their current flight schedules.”
Asked about the purchase of airberlin recently by the Lufthansa Group, Schulz said it would be incorporated into the Eurowings platform during the course of 2018.
“Airberlin will cease operations at the end of this month,” he said. “We will take over half of the fleet that includes 81 aircraft and 1 700 employees. The growth story of Eurowings will see acceleration just by this purchase of the Lufthansa Group. It is a major step in European airline consolidation.”

UK asylum seekers living in ‘squalid, unsafe slum conditions’

UK asylum seekers living in ‘squalid, unsafe slum conditions’
27 October 2017 –
Asylum seekers arriving in the UK are forced to live in “squalid, unsafe, slum housing conditions” and the public is largely unaware of the conditions into which “traumatised people are routinely dumped”, charities have said.
The £600m government contract to provide shelter for those seeking sanctuary in the UK goes up for tender next month as calls mount for for urgent reforms.
Testimonies from asylum seekers and frontline workers detail accommodation that is infested with vermin, insecure, damp and dirty. One woman in Greater Manchester described how she was forced to stay in the same house even after her newborn baby was covered with bites from bed bugs.
Another asylum seeker in Greater Manchester told of a sink pedestal that crashed though the ceiling into the area where she was living with her three children. Another in Merseyside shared images of her bedroom after the ceiling had collapsed for the second time in six months.
Charities also told the Guardian that women who had been trafficked had been put in housing with internal and external doors that did not lock securely. “You’re talking about people who have potentially been raped, sexually assaulted, tortured, not being able to lock their front door,” said Christina Bodenes from MRANG, a Merseyside charity that provides support to women their children seeking asylum. “It’s just a completely unacceptable situation.”
Responsibility for housing people seeking asylum in the UK was taken away from local authorities in 2012 and given to the companies Serco, G4S and Clearsprings, through contracts known as Compass.
The vast majority of asylum seekers are housed by G4S and Serco in the poorest parts of the country where housing is comparatively cheap. G4S holds Compass contracts for the north-east, Yorkshire and the Humber, the Midlands and the east of England, where 45% of the UK’s asylum seekers live.
Maurice Wren, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “All too often, people seeking asylum in the UK are forced to live in squalid, unsafe, slum housing conditions, at exorbitant cost to the public purse.
“Though the general public is largely unaware of the appalling conditions into which traumatised people are routinely dumped, ministers and officials are not, yet this scandal continues unchecked. The time has come to end this shameful practice and allow people seeking asylum to live in dignity.”
David Simmonds, the chair of the Local Government Association’s asylum, refugee and migration taskforce, said councils regularly complained that they had little power to tackle the “generally unacceptable” standard of accommodation for asylum seekers in their areas, because the private contractors’ contracts are with the Home Office.
“The accommodation will always be at the lowest end of the market, because to win the contract the providers bid at the lowest possible price,” he said. “But vermin infestations and damp are things that would stop a local authority from considering that accommodation for placing UK homeless families. That same minimum standard should apply consistently.”
Graham O’Neill of the Scottish Refugee Council said asylum-seeker housing was a vital public service, “housing for a group of people who really need the stability and the privacy that a safe home and a safe space can bring”. It is “publicly funded and yet local authorities and devolved governments have no ability to hold these providers to account”, he said.
The north-west town has a higher concentration of asylum seekers than anywhere in England. Locals have been both generous and furious
Read more
Asylum seekers do not have permission to work while awaiting a decision on their claim. Under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 they are able to apply for accommodation and financial help from the Home Office if they have no other means of supporting themselves.
Armed conflict and political instability in the Middle East and Africa have caused the number of people housed under the act to jump sharply during the life of the Compass contracts, from about 25,000 to 40,000 at the end of last year.
MPs on the home affairs select committee heard evidence last year that G4S and Serco were losing money on the Compass contracts, in part because of the increase in the number of asylum seekers and the rising cost of rents. Serco’s average monthly income per service user was about £300 in February 2016, compared with an average cost of around £450.
An asylum seeker’s room in Greater Manchester where a sink pedestal fell through the ceiling.
The committee published a report in January that said the government should act immediately to improve conditions. Ten months later, charities say there has been little improvement and the government is yet to respond to the findings.
It has said the previous month that the current Compass contracts would be extended for two years until August 2019. Contracts to provide asylum seeker accommodation from September 2019 until 2024 will be put out to tender in November.
A Home Office spokesperson said the ministry worked closely with contractors to ensure they provided accommodation that was “safe, habitable, fit for purpose and adequately equipped”, and that it investigated all complaints relating to sub-standard accommodation.
John Whitwam, G4S’s head of immigration and borders, said the standard of accommodation provided to asylum seekers was “subject to prescriptive criteria”, and that any failure to meet those criteria would result in a contract penalty.
“Since November 2013, we have not been subject to any performance penalties on the basis that we rectify many tens of thousands of defects each year to meet the required standard,” he said. “We continue to invest in our provision, despite heavy commercial losses.”
Scott Ross, Serco’s operations director, said the company was committed to ensuring they provided “decent and safe accommodation” for the 16,000 asylum seekers in its care, and that they met all of their contractual obligations.
“We are absolutely confident that the asylum seekers we look after are in housing of a decent standard, and where repairs are required to the 5,000 properties that we manage, these are completed in accordance with the strict timescales of our contract with the Home Office,” he said.
‘This house is awful’
When Maria – not her real name – fled her home in South America because she faced imprisonment without trial for protesting against the government, she was pregnant and homeless. Now her daughter is eight and they have been living in her current home for five years, but the property is still is barely habitable.
Maria says the accommodation in Leeds has got worse since G4S took over the contract. Her house is so riddled with mice that she and her daughter are forced to sleep with the lights on to stop them coming into their bedrooms.
“It’s not just the quality of the house I’m in, but the service has got worse,” she says. “I’m excited to move out of this house, but I already feel so sorry for the next family they are going to bring here. This house is awful.”
Another asylum seeker living in Greater Manchester said she was scared for the safety of her children, all under ten, after a sink pedestal fell through the ceiling of her living room in mid-July. “My daughter and son played in the same place [where the pedestal fell]. I was really scared,” she said. “When I go to sleep I think what could have happened.”

Oppenheimer-owned Fireblade wins court

Oppenheimer-owned Fireblade wins court
27 October 2017, iol
Pretoria – The Oppenheimer family’s company Fireblade on Friday won its legal battle in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria when a judge declared that former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba did indeed give the company the go-ahead to run a customs and immigration service at OR Tambo International Airport.
The approval was granted last year, but it was revoked a few days later, apparently following pressure from the Gupta family.
Fireblade subsequently asked the court to declare that the approval remained of force and effect and that it may not be revoked.
Judge Sulet Potterill said the facts reflect that the concept of establishing a fixed based aviation operation (FBO) was already floated in 2011 and had the support of OR Tambo International Airport, the airports company, Denel and the Department of Home Affairs.
It required Fireblade to adhere to many regulatory hoops from various departments and institutions. “It was a four year expensive exercise to establish this seven star facility,” the judge said.
She said the last step in the process was the approval by the minister. Fireblade claimed that at a meeting in January last year the minister informed all present that he had already signed the approval of the Fireblade application. The minister, in turn, denied this.
The judge said during January, last year’s meeting, the minister stated that all stakeholders had indicated their support. Only his approval was outstanding. Denel by then had already given its approval and relayed this to the minister.
Denel at the time said: “We are pleased to inform you that Denel approves and support our tenants in these premises. We are therefore endorsing the project to go-ahead…”
The minister then instructed that the operational plan had to be finalised, a feasibility study had to be done and he said that he would like to explore the possible use of a Fireblade facility to promote the new Premium Visa Visitation Centre for Businessmen.
He even at the time requested Fireblade to invite President Zuma to the formal opening ceremony to be held in future.
On the same day the Oppenheimers expressed their delight that “all outstanding matters were resolved”.
The judge said it seemed at that stage that after four years of negotiations and all the stakeholders buying into the project, all was set to go.
The minister a few days later announced that “the approval we granted them is suspended until further notice.”
The judge in this regard said: “If approval was to be given in future, what past approval needed to be suspended? She found that the minister’s reasons for the “suspension” were “palpably untrue”.
She said the minutes of the meeting reflected that the minister signed the approval. The minister, in turn, disputed that the minutes of the meeting was true and that he did give the go-ahead.
The judge, however, said: “I find the minister’s version to be rejected. I declare that the minister did on January 28, 2016, grant Fireblade’s application for an ad hoc international customs and immigration service component…”
She declared that the minister’s approval is thus of force and effect and may not be revoked without due cause. She said Fireblade can implement and rely on the approval.

Apleni ruling could have consequences for other suspended DGs

Apleni ruling could have consequences for other suspended DGs
EWN – 27 October 2017
CAPE TOWN – A court ruling setting aside the suspension of the Home Affairs Director General (DG), Mkuseli Apleni, could have consequences for two other suspended DGs.
The High Court found that unless delegated by the president, ministers do not have powers to suspend DGs.
The High Court found that unless delegated by the president, ministers do not have powers to suspend DGs.
The DGs of Water and Sanitation and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have been suspended on full pay for more than three months.
The Department of Water and Sanitation has confirmed that DG Dan Mashitisho remains on suspension and that his disciplinary process is still ongoing.
At the same time, Mike Mlengana, the DG of Agriculture, says the legally prescribed time for formal disciplinary proceedings to be instituted against him has passed, and he intends returning to work soon.
Labour lawyer Puke Maserumule says this week’s judgment in Apleni’s favour, has consequences for those in the same boat.
“The fact that you might have been suspended six months ago, doesn’t mean that because the judgment was handed down this week, your suspension is lawful.”

SA Unemployment Issues: This Is How The Guptas ‘Steal’ Jobs From South Africans

SA Unemployment Issues: This Is How The Guptas ‘Steal’ Jobs From South Africans

October 23, 2017 – Buzz South Africa

Latest report has shown that the Gupta family’s influence on the South African Home Affairs Department may have caused the increasing loss of jobs in the country.

The report says there were many qualified South Africans out of employment who could have done this work had the Gupta family not captured the Home Affairs Department.

The family and its businesses reportedly used top government officials to waive important requirements for work visas for at least 50 foreign nationals and family members, who were brought into South Africa to fill “critical” jobs such as project managers, chefs and chartered accountants.

This, the report says, turned the DHA into a family-own private permit-issuing factory and it was most effective during the time of Minister Malusi Gigaba who is now SA’s Minister of finance.

The project also involved a network of senior and middle-level department officials

SA unemployment rate is said to have risen by 1.2 of a percentage point to 27.7% in the first quarter of 2017 increased by 1.2 – the highest figure since September 2003.

In the fourth quarter of 2016, SA unemployment stood at 26.5%. Statistics SA also reported that there would be more bad news for job-seekers as the formal non-agricultural sector of the economy reported a decline of 34 000 jobs for the quarter ended June 2017.

This is according to the latest Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) report released by Statistics South Africa. The Zuma-led government laid the blame on an unequal distribution of wealth among citizens, hence the introduction of the Radical Economic Transformation in the early years of 2017. Others, however, blamed the government for doing little or nothing to combat the incessant flow of illegal immigrants into the country.

The evidence of the wholesale capture of the DHA is contained in the trove of Gupta e-mails which shows that despite the massive all effort to combat the effect of unemployment on the economy, dozens of curriculum vitae showing highly skilled people looking for jobs still exist.

Then there is the “creative brand manager” eventually employed as a creative director, who appeared to have entered SA in 2008. “It will be a huge loss to the company if we send him back and look out for new candidates since he has been instrumental in the launch of our new TV station and is leading a team of 30 interns (South Africans) and imparting skill sets needed to develop a new breed of TV professionals in the country,” reads the application for a waiver. This has raised the question that if he has been here since 2008, where is the list of people he is supposed to have trained, as required by the Immigration Act.

The rules for bringing foreign workers into SA is that they must school South Africans in their job. This means that a skills transfer plan is required for foreign nationals wanting to apply for an intra-company transfer visa, which forms the bulk of the Guptas’ applications to DHA.

The requirements for employing foreigners are governed by the Immigration Act, the Employment Services Act, and the Labour Relations Act and together they create a spiderweb of red tape. And all of it can be waved away with the stroke of a pen, legally. Many such waivers were signed.

As far as the relationship between the Guptas and DHA goes, it seems time can even be turned back, with a waiver for a project manager being signed off on October 1 in South Africa and the paperwork submitted on October 3 to India.

Foreign workers to bear brunt of proposed changes to SA immigration policy

Foreign workers to bear brunt of proposed changes to SA immigration policy
17 Oct 2017 – Tourism Update
Proposed changes to SA immigration policy with see companies having to fork out more.
With an overhaul of South Africa’s immigration system imminent and uncertainty over the impact of some of the proposed changes, concerns are being expressed and companies are advised to keep a close watch. Liesl Venter finds out more.
The White Paper on Immigration released by the Department of Home Affairs in July this year will introduce significant changes to the immigration landscape and, while much is still up in the air, companies can expect to fork out more.
“It is virtually going to become impossible for a foreigner working in South Africa to become a permanent resident (PR) and, following that, a full citizen,” says Johan Lubbe, Managing Member of Immigration Boutique. “If one looks at where they are going with this, it becomes clear the government is only going to take the cream of the crop and they simply do not want permanent resident holders.”
The best advice to anyone considering citizenship in South Africa is therefore to apply sooner rather than later because come 2019 it will be near impossible.
According to Gavin Colaco, Practice Leader at Fragomen Africa, the movement from PR to citizenship should not be an issue for employees, nor be relevant in the employer/employee relationship. “A PR holder enjoys the same rights as a citizen, except participation in elections into government structures (local, provincial and national). A PR holder does not require a work visa and can change employment at any time without limitation, just like a citizen. There should be no impact on the company when a PR holder has difficulty to qualify for citizenship, unless the company rules specify that some roles are only for citizens, and if that is the case, then the company itself could be adopting unfair labour practices that are constitutionally illegal,” Colaco says.
But, should employees be restricted in getting PR status, it will be a different story altogether – as the only option open to foreigners will be work permits.
According to Colaco, South Africa still remains a strategic country for companies to use as a base and to make inroads to the African continent for business growth and investment. “The challenges with immigration do present hurdles to the smooth deployment of individuals into South Africa and the trend continues. This does definitely impact the ability to import the appropriate and much-needed skills into the country to catalyse growth and development,” he says.
“For instance, there is a specific type of visa called the Critical Skills Visa which is designed to respond to companies’ needs for skills by attracting talent in those skill shortage areas. However, the challenge lies in the fact that the skills list needs to be updated and published by the Minister responsible, after consultation across all government departments and industries that require skills that are either not available or in short supply. The last time this was done was back in 2014 resulting in the skills list being potentially outdated. Therefore, companies struggle to bring in bright talent involved in cutting-edge technological advancements, owing to the fact that this visa category operates on an outdated skills list,” Colaco explains.
He says the biggest challenges with the White Paper are the inconsistent decision-making (adjudication) both in South Africa and foreign missions, the long turnaround times that are also inconsistent from mission to mission and country to country, the varying interpretation of the immigration legislation, and the ongoing requests for additional documents and information not in the legislation.
According to Hanniff Hoosen, DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, while the approach to introduce more control over one’s borders is commendable, a restrictive approach can be damaging. “The barriers to entry being created are questionable. We are introducing a restrictive system for those who comply with the law while at the same time making it extremely easy for immigrants who don’t comply to literally just walk across our border. It does not make sense,” he says.
According to Hoosen, while the changes in the immigration policy will impact on business, the bigger fear lies in the message being sent to the rest of the world – that it is difficult to do business in South Africa.
Gershon Mosiane, Chairman of the Forum of Immigration Practitioners of South Africa (FIPSA), says even applying for work visas is becoming increasingly difficult and fewer and fewer are being issued every year. “It is costing companies huge amounts of money to apply for these visas and there is no guarantee their employees are going to get them,” he says.
“We are currently working on a case where a metal manufacturing company is about to shut its doors as the skilled experts it has brought in are not getting their visas,” Mosiane adds.
He says the critical skills list is also questionable. “They have sheep shearers on that list, but engineers working at a manufacturing plant employing hundreds of South Africans are not able to get a work visa. This makes no sense,” Mosiane says.
According to Lubbe, it is not only becoming increasingly difficult to apply for these visas but also more expensive. “Companies are best advised to keep a close eye on these policy developments. It is still extremely uncertain and difficult to say what the exact impacts will be, but indications are that the negatives at present far outweigh the positives.”

Zimbabwean diaspora in SA loses interest in Zim affairs

Zimbabwean diaspora in SA loses interest in Zim affairs
2017-10- City Press
Zimbabweans who have fled economic hardship and political problems to fend for their families in South Africa have lost interest in the affairs of their country.
They did not care who was sacked this week by President Robert Mugabe or who was appointed to his newly reshuffled Cabinet, saying their country’s woes required economic policies that would ease the hardships faced by their families back home.
Zimbabwean Chenjerai-Patson Muzvidziwa said: “I am sick and tired of the Zimbabwean question. What matters now for my wife and me is how to ensure that our children go to school and get them food, clothes and proper healthcare.
“Otherwise, the issue of who is reshuffled, expelled or appointed in Zimbabwe is no longer any of my business.”
On Monday night Mugabe, 93, rearranged his Cabinet on the back of intense factional battles waged by camps jostling for his succession and of a worsening economic situation coming ahead of elections scheduled for next year.
Among other changes, Mugabe’s first deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was removed as minister of justice, legal and parliamentary affairs.
He also introduced new ministries such as the cyber security, threat detection and mitigation ministry, as well as another responsible for national scholarships.
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party is torn between factions siding with Mnangagwa and the increasingly influential First Lady, Grace, to succeed the president.
Muzvidziwa said he used to follow developments back home with keen interest in 2008, when South Africa’s then president Thabo Mbeki attempted to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis.
At the time, Mbeki’s efforts led to the September 2008 government of national unity between Mugabe and his arch-rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.
Although it was short-lived, the settlement temporarily boosted Zimbabwe’s economic stability with new investments.
The quality of life for its citizens also improved – out-of-stock hospitals got the drugs they needed; safe water could be found in most communities; and supermarkets were full of commodities.
Compared with the current acute shortages of basic commodities and cash, it was a golden era.
“Since Mbeki left government, I also lost hope,” Muzvidziwa said.
“I am just praying that South Africa’s department of home affairs gives me and my family permanent residence in this country so that I completely disown Zimbabwe.”
During the interview, Muzvidziwa was sending groceries to his home town of Masvingo through the “malayishas”, an informal courier service.
Zimbabwean Farai Ncube, originally from Binga, a district in Matabeleland North, said he was selling items in Braamfontein to generate money for his parents back home.
“I send the money using malayishas. I cannot send it through formal means as I do not have documentation,” he said.
A significant portion of the population in Ncube’s home province relies on goods and remittances sent by family members outside of the country, mainly from South Africa.
Onisimo Zviripai, who works for one of the bus companies plying the Harare-Johannesburg route, was also unconcerned about the Cabinet reshuffle and other political problems.
“At least I don’t commit a crime or steal from other people but eat from my sweat,” he said.
More concerned about bread-and-butter
Advocate Gabriel Shumba, the executive director of civic organisation the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, said: “Very clearly, the reshuffle is a political and secessionist manoeuvre that has neither the current economic interests of Zimbabwe nor its long-term future [at heart].
“A cause for serious concern is the new ministry of cyber security. In the execution of whatever mandate will be accorded, it is likely to clash with some provisions of our Constitution.”
Shumba said Zimbabweans were more concerned about bread-and-butter, as well as developmental, issues that were sacrificed at the altar of political expedience and personal aggrandisement, adding:
“The country needs to reinvent and re-articulate its vision.”
Ngqabutho Mabhena, the Johannesburg-based general secretary of the Zimbabwe Communist Party, lamented the appointment of the ministers of scholarships and of of cyber security, arguing that they should have been absorbed into existing ministries.
“Unfortunately, without a clear economic and political programme, this Cabinet reshuffle is meaningless as it will not address our economic, social and political challenges,” Mabhena said.
He said the need for a new leadership that would unite the polarised and distressed nation was the biggest challenge facing Zimbabwe, along with the looting of resources by the “parasitic bourgeoisie”.
Luke Dzipange Zunga, secretary general of the Zimbabwean Civil Society Organisations, said while Mugabe had the liberty to change his Cabinet, the reshuffle confirmed that Zimbabwe was not run by Parliament or central government.
Instead, it was run via intelligence operatives.
Zunga said following the reshuffle and the elective congress, Mnangagwa risked being arrested to sideline him from presidential contention.
He further predicted that the 2018 elections would see poverty-stricken villagers frog-marched to the polls to vote for the ruling Zanu-PF party.
Zunga went on to forecast that after those elections – which Mugabe would win if such machinations worked – he would install Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi as his successor and Grace as the deputy, while another deputy would come from the former Zapu party, in accordance with the 1987 Unity Accord it signed with Zanu-PF. – CAJ News
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