Browsing "Permanent Residence"

South Africa: Minister to Investigate Electronic Visas

press release : Democratic Alliance –allafrica.com

Date : 31 July 2014

 

This afternoon, I met with the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hannekom, to discuss the various solutions to strengthen the tourism industry given the fact that the National Development Plan has identified tourism as one of the country’s key job-creating sectors. I especially raised the hasty implementation of the new immigration regulations, which threatens jobs in the industry.

The DA was pleased with this meeting where the Minister undertook to explore the use of electronic visas in the future. This would undo the need to go to a South African mission or embassy, as required in the current regulations, which acts as a hindrance to potential inbound travelers. The use of electronic visas will cut turnaround times for the issuing of travel permits while increasing security.

The DA is also pleased with the steps announced by the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, and Mr Hannekom, to provide for more facilitation centres in key tourism markets such as China and India, and to relax the requirements for an unabridged birth certificate for travelling minors. These markets were a point of concern following forecasts of a 70% drop in travel from China to South Africa.

However, this is merely dealing with the symptoms of the problem, and not the problem itself. The VISA regulations remain problematic, and a barrier to job creation. We maintain our position that they should be withdrawn and properly debated and scrutinised by Parliament. This should include submissions from the tourism industry itself to best advise officials on the market.

To this effect, the DA will continue with its planned submission to the Minister of Home Affairs, as agreed to with DA Parliamentary Leader, Mmusi Maimane, and will emphasise this point in particular.

Our government’s key focus must be growing the economy and creating jobs so that we can improve the lives of millions of our people. Any policy that stands in the way of this must be reconsidered.

We are committed to making sure that this happens.

James Vos, Shadow Minister of Tourism

Home affairs delays leave Zim nationals in limbo

01 Aug 2014 00:00 Rapula Moatshe – Mail & Guardian

The special permits issued to Zimbabweans in South Africa in 2010 will expire in December, but no news about the renewal of their residency status.

 

Tarisai Moyo is one of the 250 000 Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa under special dispensation permits.

The permits, issued in 2010 by the department of home affairs, are valid for four years. They are due to expire in December.

Moyo, a softly spoken history teacher, works at the Albert Street School, which was founded by the Johannesburg Central Methodist Church in the inner city.

She was a teacher for 10 years in her home country before coming to South Africa in 2005. She came to Johannesburg because of the poor economic outlook in Zimbabwe.

She is “insecure” about her residency status in Johannesburg because neither home affairs officials nor officials from the Zimbabwe embassy are able to say whether her permit will be renewed.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, during his budget vote speech last month, said: “I am mindful of the anxiety among the Zimbabwean nationals in possession of this special permit issued in 2010, but I shall announce my decision in August.”

Another teacher, who did not want to be named, said the school could not afford to pay its electricity bill and the power had been cut off. The teacher said most parents cannot afford to pay school fees.

Moyo says being without legal papers scares her. “I have seen how the police in the inner city handle Zimbabweans without proper papers,” she says.

Feeling targeted
“Why is it the permits are issued specifically to Zimbabweans? I feel like we are being targeted. Why not to Somalis? I feel like the situation would be better if [Nelson] Mandela was still alive.”

Moyo has heard rumours that “we are going to be taken to our own country to make visas from there”.

School principal William Kandowe, also from Zimbabwe, is seated in his gloomy office behind a desk cluttered with papers. He is marking science exams. “I have asylum papers. I didn’t go to obtain the permit in 2010,” he says.

“Why were the permits issued only to Zimbabweans in the first place? The South African government is worried that, should it extend Zimbabweans’ stay for an extra year, some might want to apply for permanent residence.”

Bishop Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church says 1 300 Zimbabweans are staying at his church. “Most of these people are vulnerable and quite traumatised,” he says.

Some people do piece work during the day; others are teachers at the school. Every Wednesday evening they congregate at the church and pray and jubilantly sing Shona hymns before filing up to receive holy communion.

Verryn appealed to South Africans “to have a progressive mind-set towards foreign nationals”. “We need to recognise that openness to diversity is most important to our lives; that it brings us closer to humanity,” he said.

Dosso Ndessomin of the Co-ordinating Body of Migrant and Refugee Communities said this week he was positive that South Africa’s government would renew the permits.

The four-year permit “is not like the normal permits that would automatically give one the right to have permanent residence after a five-year stay in the country”, he said, and advised those whose permits had expired to report to their local home affairs office.

Moyo said she did not hold out much hope: “I am expecting the worst. But if the worst comes to the worst I will go home because it is difficult for a learned person like myself to become destitute.”

Home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete told the Mail & Guardian this week that he did not want to pre-empt Gigaba’s announcement.

“The announcement will be made soon enough, in a couple of weeks. The minister is still consulting with his Zimbabwean counterpart on the issue.

SA New immigration laws: Here’s what you need to know

03/08/2014 03:00:00 STORIES By Teetee Zwane – Swazi Observer

 

The South African High Commission in Swaziland will have no role to play in assisting Swazis meet the new immigration regulations regarding travelling with children, says the SA department of home affairs.

Single parents wishing to travel to South Africa with their children may face difficulties unless they are the only registered parent on the child’s birth certificate.

According to the new South African immigration regulations, parents travelling internationally with children would now be requested to provide an unabridged birth certificate (including the details of the child’s father as well as the mother) of all travelling children.

This applies even when both parents are travelling with their children and it also applies to foreigners and South Africans alike. When children are travelling with guardians, these adults are required to produce affidavits from parents proving permission for the children to travel. The unabridged birth certificate applications can take anything from six to eight weeks to complete.

“The requirements for travelling with children will be implemented from October 1, 2014,” confirmed Advocate Tsietsi Sebelemetja, South African Department of Home Affairs Directorate: Legal Services. Asked how the South African High Commission would assist – for instance single parents – especially in cases where the other parent was uncooperative or inaccessible for the necessary documentation, he said the SA High Commission had no role to play in the matter.

“Where one parent is registered as the only parent (mother), as RSA we will have no right to ask where the father is, but will require consent where two parents (father and mother) are registered,” added Sebelemetja.

Ministry of Home Affairs Principal Secretary Anthony Masilela said by virtue of Swaziland and South Africa working together in a lot of aspects, the neighbouring country had afforded the courtesy of informing government about the new immigration regulations.

He, however, said by being given the new legislation, South Africa was not asking for their opinions but informing the Swaziland authorities about it.

“South Africa does not have a law against human trafficking, so in fighting this criminal act it saw the need to strengthen its immigration laws and since children are the most trafficked because of their vulnerability, I think this is why they have introduced these travelling regulations,” he said.

Masilela said the regulations were a positive development in trying to address human trafficking, especially of children.

He acknowledged though that the new regulations would impact on Swazis, in terms of doing things differently.  Meanwhile, Sebelemetja said for those Swazis who currently held study permits and temporary residence visas, the new regulations would not affect them.

However, the advocate said all persons who were on valid permits in South Africa would have to renew such when the extension or renewal period came (60 days before expiry) at the Visa Facilitation Service Centres.

On whether the SA High Commission was adequately equipped and had the capacity to deal with additional cases that might be brought about due to the new regulations, Sebelemetja said the High Commission had been established to deal with applications coming through, and “the Mission will have to deal with such applications”.

Miners won’t be affected

Swazis working in South African mines will not be affected by the new immigration regulations that have been implemented by the neighbouring country.

Concerns have been raised by some locals following the introduction of the new regulations, especially with the addition of a new category, the ‘critical skills’ work visa.

Advocate Tsietsi Sebelemetja, South African Department of Home Affairs Directorate: Legal Services, said miners currently working under bilateral agreements between their countries and South Africa would not be affected by the new legislation.

“The miners working on bilateral agreements (under corporate visas) will not individually be affected as such if they are currently on valid authorisation certificates,” he said.

Sebelemetja said, however, their employers would have to apply for the necessary visa when the current ones expired in order to employ such miners.

South Africa has agreements for the mining industry between itself and select Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries; Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and Malawi.

The bilateral agreements enable South African mining companies to recruit foreign workers from these SADC countries to fill labour shortages as well as transfer knowledge and skills.

Bilateral treaties between South Africa and neighbouring states date back decades and govern the entry of mine and farm workers to South Africa from Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.

The treaties provide that recruitment of labour is subject to the availability of South African labour. The most common categories of workers regulated by these treaties are lower-skilled mineworkers (grades one to eight) and farm workers, although they are also used to regulate the entry and stay of skilled contract workers.

Under the new immigration regulations which came into effect on May 26, 2014 – regardless of which type of work visa is being applied for – there is now a little more onus on the employer as they must sign an undertaking for all repatriation costs as well as ensuring that the employee has a valid passport at all times.

For corporate visas, companies can apply for any number of visas provided they fulfil the conditions of the defined labour market test and ensure that the local staff complement will never be less than 60%.  However, the visa conditions and permitted period of stay differ for foreigners entering South Africa in terms of a bilateral agreement or for employment in the mining or construction sectors.

Once the corporate visa employees have been recruited, employed and obtained their visa, there are also a number of obligations that the employer needs to be able to meet:

Foreign employees passports are kept valid at all times;

That the foreigner only conducts work in a position that the visa was issued for;

That the foreigner departs South Africa upon completion of his/her contract; and

They immediately inform the department of home affairs if the foreigner is not compliant with the immigration and visa rules.

 

The new travelling regulations

 

The new South African immigration regulations concerning travelling with children are as follows:

Regulation 6: (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.

 

(b) In the case of one parent travelling with a child, he or she must produce an unabridged birth certificate and –

(i) consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from the Republic with the child he or she is travelling with;

(ii) a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child; or

(iii) where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate; provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child.

 

(c) Where a person is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child, he or she must produce-

(i) a copy of the unabridged birth certificate of the child;

(ii) an affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child;

(iv) copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child; and

(v) the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child, provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child.

 

(d) Any unaccompanied minor shall produce to the immigration officer –

(i) proof of consent from one of or both his or her parents or legal guardian, as the case may be, in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from the Republic: provided that in the case where one parent provides proof of consent, that parent must also provide a copy of a court order issued to him or her in terms of which he or she has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child;

(ii) a letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his or her residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will be residing;

(iii) a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic; and

(iv) the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child

 

Critical Skills Who qualifies?

Critical Skills
Who qualifies?
The newly published “Skills or qualifications determined to be critical for the Republic of South Africa in relation to an application for a Critical Skills Visa or Permanent Residence Permit” – Immigration Act, 2002 (Act No. 13 of 2002) – Section 19(4), to be read with Regulations 19(5), lists the following as being considered some of the critical skills.

The Critical Skills List – Published 3rd June 2014
Business, Economics and Management Studies
• Agricultural Engineer
• Agricultural Scientist
• Forestry Technician
• Sheep Shearer
• Architect
• Construction Project Manager
• Land Surveyor
• Quantity Surveyor
• Urban and Regional Planner
• Actuaries and Risk Assessors
• Corporate General Manager
• External Auditor
• Financial Investment Advisor

Information Communication & Technology
• CISCO Solution Specialist
• CISCO Engineers
• Solutions Architects in Telecommunications and ICT
• Integrated Developers (PHP, PERL, JAVA)
• Network Analyst
• IT Security Specialist
• System Integration Specialist
• Enterprise Architects
• Data Centre Operations
• Network Specialist (Security)
• Database Specialist
• Microsoft System Engineers
• Network Controllers
• AV Specialist (Anti-virus)
• Desktop Support Engineer

Engineering
• Energy Engineer
• Metallurgical Engineer
• Chemical Engineer
• Civil Engineer
• Electrical Engineer
• Electrical Installation Inspector
• Electronics Engineer
• Geologist
• Industrial and Production Engineers
• Industrial Designer
• Manufacturing Managers
• Materials Engineer
• Mechanical Engineer
• Mining Engineer
• Production/Operations Manager
• Quality System Manager
• Research and Development Manager
• Ship’s Engineer
• Telecommunications Engineers
• Electrical Engineering Technologist
• Energy Engineering Technologist
• Mechanical Engineering Technologist
• Metallurgical Engineering Technologist
• Mining Engineering Technologist
• Air Conditioning and Mechanical Services Plumber
• Automotive Electrician
• Automotive Motor Mechanic
• Boiler Maker
• Chemical Engineering Technologist
• Civil Engineering Technologist
• Diesel Mechanic
• Electronics Engineering Technologist
• Fitter and Turner
• Materials Engineering Technologist
• Mechatronics Technician
• Metal Fabricator
• Physical and Engineering Science Technicians
• Pressure Welder
• Structural Plaster
• Toolmaker

Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences
• Medical Superintendant/Public Health Manager
• Public Health Physician
• General and Specialist Medical Practitioner
• Hospital Pharmacist
• Nursing Professionals
• Veterinarian
• Registered Nurse (child and family health)
• Retail Pharmacist

Life and Earth Sciences
• Environmental Engineers
• Environmental Manager
• Industrial Pharmacist
• Aquatic Scientist
• Animal Scientist
• Advanced Composites Engineering
• Archaeological/Paleontological Specialist
• Bioeconomist
• Biochemists
• Bioinformatician
• Bioinformaticist
• Biological Scientist
• Botanical Scientist
• Chemical Scientist
• Computational Biologist
• Environmental Scientist
• Ecological Scientist
• Food Scientist
• Engineering Geologist
• Geochemist
• Geohazards Specialist
• Geologist
• Geophycist
• Laboratory Technologist and Technician
• Marine Bioscientist
• Materials Scientist
• Metallurgical Scientist
• Metrology
• Microbiological Scientist
• Polymer Scientist
• Protein Scientist
• Seismologist
• Soil Scientist
• Toxicology Scientist
• Water Resource Scientist

Professionals and Associate Professional
• Land and Engineering Surveyors
• Electronic Engineering Technician
• Materials Engineering Technologist
• Electrical Engineering Technician
• Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Practitioner
• Draughtsperson
• Mechanical Engineering Technician
• Chemical Engineering Technician
• Organisation and Methods Analyst (Incl. scheduler, estimator)
• Surveying Technician
• Geomatics Technician
• Quantity Surveying Technician
• Civil Engineering Technician
• Materials Engineer Non-destructive Testing (NDT)
• Materials Engineering Technician – Road materials
• Materials Tester
• Construction Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ) Agent/Manager/Officer
• Aeronautical Engineering
• Architectural Senior Technologist
• Architectural Draughtsperson
• Astronomer
• Physicist (SKA)
• Geomagnetic Physicist
• Solar Physicist
• Space Physicist
• Plasma Physicist
• Space Technologist
• Space Weather Specialist
• Magnetic Technology Specialist
• Radar Engineering
• Radio Frequency Engineering
• Environmental Technologist
• Industrial Engineer
• Industrial Engineering Technologist
• Industrial Engineering Technician
• Landscape Architect
• Landscape Contract Manager
• Landscape Horticulturalist
• Mining Technician

Trades
• Millwright
• Boilermaker (For Strategic Infrastructure Projects)
• Industrial Machinery Mechanic
• Pipe Fitter
• Double Coded Welder
• Rigger
• Moulder
• Raise-bore Operators
• Raise-bore Foreman

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
• Software Development Engineers and Managers
• Systems Architects, Engineers and Managers
• Foreign Language speakers for specialist language support and technical or sales support (German, Swiss German, Flemish, Greek, Swedish, Danish, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Mandarin and French)
• Business Analyst
• Quality Analyst
• Quality Assurance Specialist/Auditor
• Customer Service Manager/Team Lead

Academics and Researchers
• Doctoral Graduates (Acquired Abroad)
• Research in any of the following areas;
• Galaxy Formation and Evolution
• Galaxy Structure and Dynamics
• Pulsars and Black Holes
• Pulsars and Black Holes
• Pulsars and Gravitational Waves
• Deep Observations of the earliest Radio Galaxies
• Dynamic and Transient Burst
• VLBI Operations
• Search for CO to investigate role of Molecular Hydrogen
• Deep Surveyors of Neutral Hydrogen Gas in the Early Universe
• Cosmology and Dark Energy
• Cosmic Magnetism
• Calibration and Imaging of Radio Interferometer data
• Pulsar Research
• Pulsar and Gravitational Waves
• VLBI Operations
• Signal Processing
• Observational Radio Astronomy in General
• Algorithm for Radio Astronomy
• Signal Processing for Radio Astronomy
• Supercomputing for Radio Astronomy
• Software Development for Radio Astronomy
• Data and Streaming- Real-Time Processing of Massive Data Amounts
• Green Computing- Extreme Performance at Minor Energy Cost
• Performance at Minor Energy Costs
• EMC and Spectrum Management
• Beam Modelling
• Antenna Modelling
• Feeds for Radio Astronomy Systems
• Receivers for Radio Astronomy Systems
• Signal Processing for Radio Astronomy
• High Speed Data Transport
• Nano-photonics-Data Transport Power
• Nanotechnology
• Palaeosciences
• Reduction over Short and Long Distances
• Antenna Design
• Antenna Foundation Design
• RFI Shielded Buildings and Facilities
• Advanced Manufacturing
• Space Science and Technology
• Global Change
• Energy Security
• Information Communication Technology
• Earth Observation
• Natural and Applied Sciences

 

Immigration rules will not be changed: Gigaba

The New Age Online
Jul 14 2014

Immigration rules will not be changed: Gigaba
The department of home affairs will not change certain points in the new immigration regulations but will deal with problems raised since their implementation, minister Malusi Gigaba said on Monday.

“We are willing to engage with anybody who has concerns about the implementation,” he said.

“There are things in the immigration legislation which cannot be up for discussion. I think we need to remember… nothing is in the regulations which has not been raised in legislation.”

He said there had been enough time to raise concerns about the new regulations before they were passed into law.

Gigaba opened the Johannesburg Visa Facilitation Centre in Rivonia on Monday.

The immigration regulations, which came into effect in May, introduce a new visa regime for South Africa. It outlines a clear distinction between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.

It also stipulates that visa applications need to be made by applicants in person, and those wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa but have to do so at missions abroad.

Gigaba said the department was aware of problems which included lack of internet access and people who were not in possession of their original birth certificates.

“We are ready to discuss the implementation and how to deal with the challenges experienced,” he said.

He said the tourism department, the immigration officers and immigration practitioners had gone to his department and raised issues.

However, Gigaba said the department would not “compromise” on security and international obligations.

“We need to know who is visiting so we can protect our country.”

In June he announced that VFS Global, a worldwide outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments, had been appointed to receive and manage visa and permit applications in South Africa.

Eleven centres have been opened countrywide — in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, George, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Kimberley, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Rustenburg and Port Elisabeth.

On Monday, Gigaba took a walk around the centre and spoke to employees.

VFS general manager of operations in Southern Africa, Rishen Mahabeer, accompanied Gigaba and answered questions the minister had before the media briefing.

 

Immigration regulations belittling citizens, blocking tourism and killing job creation

Immigration regulations belittling citizens, blocking tourism and killing job creation
Haniff Hoosen, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs
15 July 2014
Honourable Chair
We meet at a time just 20 years since the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela, planted the first seeds of hope – when in his in his first sentence spoken in this parliament, he said:
“The time will come when our nation will honour the memory of all the sons, the daughters, the mothers, the fathers, the youth and the children who, by their thoughts and deeds, gave us the right to assert with pride that we are South Africans, that we are Africans and that we are citizens of the world.”
Honourable Chair, the responsibility to deliver on this right, rests with this department. It is the work that this department does that proves we are South African; that proves that we are African; and that proves that we are citizens of the world. The work of this department impacts on the lives of every South African and foreigner that enters our country.
This is why, Honourable Chair, all of us have a responsibility to make certain that this department delivers on its responsibilities in a manner that helps us change the lives of all South Africans and which breathes life into the hope and vision that Nelson Mandela had for us 20 years ago.
Lest I be accused of only criticizing, we must recognise that since 1994, this department has made many positive advances. We can document the many millions of South Africans whose rights and dignity, previously denied by the apartheid government, have been restored. The reduction in the time it takes to process and deliver passports is another example of the many successes of this department.
We must continue to make advances in changing the lives of our people, and we have a long road yet to walk.
Honourable Members,
Millions of South Africans still walk our streets everyday without the dignity of a decent job, and this department is not excluded from the responsibility of contributing towards job creation.
Take for example the advice of the National Development Plan where it promotes the migration of scarce skills into the country, a key contributor towards the development of a competitive commercial and industrial environment.
We all know that SA has a critical skills shortage. This is without a doubt a legacy of apartheid. It is imperative that we urgently address this problem in a positive manner.
But the new immigration regulations set us on a path to achieve the complete opposite. This is probably one of the worst pieces of legislation that I have come across in a very long time. Nothing that this department has done before, will contribute more towards job losses in our country than the new immigration regulations.
Honourable Minister, if you are serious about building our skills base, you will reduce the barriers of entry for scarce skills instead of fortifying them. If you are serious about increasing our skills base then you will offer incentives to attract scarce-skilled people, such as offering fee-free visas.
Instead you’ve now added a further surcharge of R1350 which VFS, the UK Based private company that now handles all visa applications, charges for their fees.
There are also huge backlogs in the issuing of permanent and temporary permits, and further requirements for permits only complicate the situation.
Honourable Minister, the solution is glaringly obvious. Open up our borders and lay down the red carpet for those who have the skills we require to build this country. Instead, Honourable Minister, you are doing the complete opposite.
The new regulations will undeniably make it more difficult for skilled foreigners who legally apply to enter South Africa. In an environment where our borders are so porous, and millions of illegal foreigners who are already in SA are slipping through the net because of a weak Immigration Inspectorate Division, we will end up with a situation where skilled foreigners will look elsewhere for work whilst unskilled illegal foreigners roam free in South Africa.
This approach only promotes a breeding ground for more xenophobic attacks in South Africa and does little to promote economic growth and job creation.
Let me illustrate another reason why your regulations are a bad idea:
In future, anyone travelling with a minor abroad will require an unabridged birth certificate. Now anyone who has recently applied for an unabridged birth certificate will tell you that the experience is a nightmare. In fact, it’s probably easier and faster to get a divorce.
Although the department promises delivery in weeks, in many instances it takes months. The main reason why it takes so long is because someone up there in Pretoria, has to manually verify the details of the parents before they can issue the certificate. Just picture in your mind what a primitive system we have when someone up there is probably running between hundreds of boxes trying to find documents to prove a child’s parenthood.
We urgently need to digitize the system in order to ensure faster turnaround times. This impediment will no doubt impact on the number of children who will travel abroad with their parents and in turn will impact on the revenue that is generated for the broader benefit of our country. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that in and outbound travel in South Africa was worth R24 billion last year. A quarter of this came from people travelling with children. This means that we place at risk, a potential R5bn in revenue, because of the introduction of just this one new requirement.
Honourable Minister, I completely understand your attempts to reduce child trafficking, but please sir, explain to this house why you introduced such a stringent requirement when you know that the Department of Home Affairs cannot deliver these documents in time for people to travel. It just simply does not make sense.
Let me give you another reason, Honourable Minister, why these regulations are going to destroy more jobs.
The introduction of VFS to facilitate the handling of all Visa applications will now render the hundreds of private immigration companies completely redundant. All these private practitioners employ thousands of South Africans who will now join their jobless counterparts on the streets. Explain again to the nation, Honourable Minister, where you expect these thousands of people to go, when finding a job in our country is becoming nearly impossible.
Let me give you yet another reason, Honourable Minister, why the regulations are bad for our country.
The tourism sector currently employs about 600 000 people. The National Development Plan suggests that the sector has the potential to add a further 225 000 jobs by 2020 and that this sector can contribute about R500bn to the economy.
The new regulations are causing havoc to thousands of tourists wanting to travel to South Africa. Already Chinese and Indian travel agents are advising their clients to seriously consider other destinations in Africa. I have no doubt this will have a huge impact on our tourism sector and I am sure that it will lead to further job losses.
Honourable Chair, I can give the Minister another 20 reasons why these regulations are bad for our economy and bad for job creation, but let me now focus on why it is bad for our image as a country.
Honourable Chair, the Value Statement of the Home Affairs Department is: “Committed to being people centred, caring, professional and having integrity.”
As a consequence of the new regulations, hundreds of foreigners who are forced to leave the country because the department does not have the capacity to grant them extensions in time are now being marked “undesirable”, and are banned from returning to the country for 5 years. Many of these foreigners have families and sometimes children who are South African citizens. It simply does not make sense why the Minister is hell-bent on punishing innocent foreigners for something they have absolutely no control over. This is tantamount to punishing innocent people for the department’s incapacity. This just does not make sense, and these hurried regulations are now tearing innocent families apart.
It also does not make sense, to expect thousands of foreigners in the country to use only 9 newly established visa centres when previously this service was being offered at hundreds of Department of Home Affairs offices countrywide.
Let me also tell you that if you want to apply for a visa through VFS in Johannesburg, the next available appointment is somewhere in the middle of August. This office can only accommodate a certain number of interviews in a day and the diaries are filling up fast. Soon one will have to wait months for an interview and this will have a knock-on effect on the number of people who travel in and out of the country.
Honourable Chair, I want to tell this house the story of a Pakistani citizen who recently had to be interviewed by a home affairs official for a residency permit. The new regulations require that the husband and wife are interviewed separately on the same day and time to determine the authenticity of their relationship. This young man had to suffer the indignity of describing the type, the colour and style of his wife’s underwear that she wore to bed the night before the interview. He also had to answer other similar questions that invaded his wife’s right to privacy. I ask you sir, is this the caring, professional and people-centred service that we should be delivering?
Honourable Minister, I appeal to your sense of reason. Please withdraw these regulations. They are tearing innocent families apart, they will destroy the creation of desperately needed jobs in our country, and they will kill our tourism sector. Furthermore, the regulations have been prematurely implemented without the use of a Regulatory Impact Assessment. Even the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hannekom, agrees, so maybe this will count for something.
Honourable Chair, for years now the Immigration Services Branch in this department consistently underperformed. Granted, the reasoning for this is often beyond the Department’s control, but one of the main contributors over the years has been the historical under-funding of this department. It is particularly concerning that this year’s budget once again shows a 14% reduction in budget allocation for Immigration Services. We should not, therefore, expect many surprises in turn-around strategies if we fail to back this Department up with more financial support.
Honourable Chair, I would like to congratulate the DG and the DDGs for making available their cellphone numbers at Home Affairs offices and on the Departmental website. This proves that senior management is serious about the quality of service delivery and we must give recognition for this.
We congratulate you too, Honourable Minister, on your recent appointment, but when you inherit a department that has declining performance targets, a department that has received yet another qualified audit and a department with increased legal challenges, you have your work cut out for you.
I thank you.

 

 

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan’s speech on the 2014 Budget Vote debate in Parliament today

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan’s speech on the 2014 Budget Vote debate in Parliament today
Published: 15 July 2014
2014 BUDGET SPEECH DEBATE: 15 JULY 2014
Chairperson
Today, as we greet and welcome all of our guests Chairperson, I wish to recognize two special guests: Firstly, Mrs Nora de Kock recently received her smart ID card at age 104. She was so delighted that she agreed to come to Parliament today to thank Home Affairs in person. Ouma, ons is baie bly om u hier hartlik te verwelkom.
The second special guest is a Grade 11 learner from Mountview High in Hanover Park.
Young Tasneem de Jongh was the team leader of an international group of schools who participated in the Commonwealth Games Classroom Project. The various participating schools had to write essays about their school experience and Tasneem’s group won. For her prize Tasneem will be travelling to the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland next week. We were pleased to be able to facilitate an urgent passport for her and wish to congratulate her and her team, who are here today, on their achievement. Joining her too is her teacher, Mr Reginald Assure as well as the Principal of Mountview High School, Mr Archie Benjamin. Thank you for your hard work and dedication and for showing South Africa that in this 20 year old democracy success is not dependent on who you are or where you come from (for those of you who don’t know – Mountview is situated in Hanover Park in the heart of the Cape Flats).
What you have shown us is that in our country success is only dependant on putting in the time and the dedicated effort.
We will continue to work within our communities and support such initiatives to move SA forward.
The Department of Home Affairs has a key role to play in the safety and security of our country and its citizens. It contributes directly to three of the 12 national outcomes – that all people in South Africa should feel and be safe, that our country should have a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path, and that we need to develop an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship.
My specific areas of responsibility – the management of refugees, legal services and the front office improvement project – are all linked to these outcomes that the Department is committed to achieve.
South Africa is part of a global world where the security and socio-economic realities in one country impacts on the security and economy of other countries. On the one hand we have an obligation in terms of our values as a nation to fulfill our constitutional and international obligations to protect persons who have a well-founded fear of persecution; or are escaping from life-threatening situations. To this end, we need to adjudicate asylum seekers efficiently, fairly and humanely and integrate those persons accorded refugee status into our communities. On the other hand, we need to put a stop to the large scale of abuse of the asylum seeker system in South Africa as this places genuine asylum seekers at a disadvantage and create social and economic risks for the country.
The March 2014 Asylum Statistics report of the Department, which is an analysis of our asylum database for 2013, portrays a picture of a gradual decline in the number of registered asylum seekers in 2013. Despite this, the activity at the Marabastad Refuge Reception office suggests the opposite. The report therefore comes to the conclusion that there are concurrently push factors in the countries of origin fueled by the “pull” factors in South Africa. This will continue to generate the high numbers of new arrivals to our shores.
One of our major challenges in this regard is that many people who seek asylum in South Africa are actually economic migrants who use the asylum seeker process to avoid applying for a visa under the Immigration Act.
The standard push factors include the unpredictability of the socio-political situation within SADC and the Eastern African regions, the continued impact of the world economic meltdown, the perception of South Africa as a country of better socio-economic opportunities as well as the notion that South Africa is a route to the world beyond.
The Asylum Statistics report shows that these push and pull factors have contributed to a total number of 70 010 new arrivals being registered in 2013. Just under 50% of new Asylum Seekers are from the SADC region with Zimbabawe being the largest asylum seeking country – (16 420), the DRC (7 175), Mozambique and Lesotho at approximately 3500 each and Malawi 2 493 Asylum Seekers from West and East Africa constituted 32% of the overall applicants, the rest are received from South and Central Eastern Asia.
70% or 48 646 of 2013 new arrivals were registered by the Pretoria Refugee Reception Office, up from 59% or 36 254 in 2012. Musina Refugee Reception Office, which officially became operational in July 2008 as an outpost office to serve as a contingency measure in handling the large influx of asylum seekers coming through Beit Bridge Border Post, accounted for 19% or 13 622 of new applications, 3% more than in 2012. Durban Refugee Reception Office handled 9% or 6412 of new applicants, up from 7%. Cape Town Refugee Reception Office, which accounted for 17% of new asylum seekers in 2012, processed only 1% of registered asylum applications in 2013 as the office stopped receiving new applications as from 1 July 2012. Our decision with regard to the Cape Town office was initially successfully challenged in Court, but the Court of Appeal reaffirmed the Department’s right to determine policy matters of this nature. This decision is in line with our policy position to in future strategically locate refugee reception centres at the borders and not in the hinterland.
Gauteng has remained the hub in 2013 with 71% registered new arrivals and other provinces received a combined 29%. This adds significantly to the urban influx challenges faced by that province and the competition for scarce resources leads to other social and economic challenges.
A total of 68 241 registered asylum claims were adjudicated and finalised at the first instance Refugee Status determination between January and December 2013. Of these claims, a total of 10,6% were approved and 30% were rejected as unfounded. Altogether, 52% were rejected as manifestly unfounded, fraudulent and abusive.
These statistics are critical in informing our policy development for the future. It also indicates that we are making important strides in terms of our adjudication process at refugee reception offices.
In terms of the National Development Plan’s objective to facilitate faster and more inclusive economic growth, we need refugee policies, legislation and processes which will address national priorities, maximize benefits and reduce risks to the country.
To this end, we will amongst other matters:
Firstly, we will finalise the implementation of our policy position to relocate refugee reception centres closer to the borderlines, with the assistance of the Public Works department.
Secondly, we will improve international cooperation, especially in the SADC region, with regard to asylum seeker and refugee management. We need an agreement between SADC countries in dealing with refugees and asylum seekers who are 3rd country nationals and how to implement the “first safe country” principle.
Thirdly, we are developing an immigration policy document which proposes strategies regarding the management of unskilled economic migration. We aim to streamline the refugee process and to integrate genuine refugees into our society.
Legal Services is responsible for drafting, litigation and contracts.
Apart from drafting the amendments to the Refugees Act and the regulations in terms thereof, Legal Services is currently preparing draft legislation that will lead to the establishment of the Border Management Agency that will play a critical role in our future immigration regime. It will also draft amendments to the Immigration Act that may be required following amended refugee legislation.
The Directorate: Litigation will continue to assist the Department in opposing motions or defending claims, as the case may be. In this regard the Directorate: Litigation has set itself a target of a 76% success rate on average for the 2014/15 financial year in finalised litigation (cases heard in Court and decided in favour of the Department after argument). For the previous financial year (2013/14) the Directorate: Litigation’s success rate on average over the reporting period was 84%. The Directorate: Contracts on average finalised 93,5% of the contracts received for scrutiny or drafting within one month of receipt thereof during the 2013/14 financial year, and 100% of these contracts were quality assured for compliance with set criteria to assess contracts. For the 2014/15 financial year the Directorate: Contracts has set itself a target to finalise on average over the reporting period 91% of the contracts received for scrutiny or drafting within one month of receipt. This Directorate has also played a major role in ensuring that contracts and work orders pertaining to the modernisation of the Department were finalised and concluded, which ultimately lead to, amongst others, the successful implementation of the smart ID card.
During the 2014/15 financial year we will also endeavour to fill the vacant funded positions within the Chief Directorate: Legal Services following the reprioritisation of the budget of the Department for Compensation of Employees.
In 2009 the Department of Home Affairs initiated a pilot project aimed at revitalising the look and feel of our front offices and make them user friendly with clear signage to enable proper workflow and queue management. The project has been rolled out in a number of our offices in accordance with the available budget.
The Minister has delegated to me the task of improving the client experience at each of our front offices.
After a comprehensive consultation process the details of the project will be finalised and announced.
Chairperson, Honourable Members, most if not all South Africans would agree that there has been steadfast improvement in the Department of Home Affairs. We remain committed to further improve our operations to ensure that we have a safe and secure South Africa where all of our people are proud of, and value, their identity and citizenship.
I thank you.