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Kenya tourism resilient despite Nairobi attack

16 January 2019 – tourism Update

Kenya’s tourism industry continues with day-to-day activities despite the recent attack at a hotel in Nairobi.
Kenya’s tourism industry remains resilient despite the shock of an attack at the Dusit2, a boutique hotel housed in a complex on Riverside Drive in Nairobi, where gunmen breached the security-controlled gate at 15h00 Kenyan time on Tuesday (January 15), leaving causalities.
Kenyan security forces promptly responded to the incident, believed to have been a terror attack reportedly carried out by Al-Shabaab, while hundreds were evacuated to safety.
According to Mohammed Hersi, Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation and Group Director of Operations at Pollman Tours and Safaris, the attack was isolated to one complex (Riverside Drive Complex), and the rest of Nairobi is calm, as is the rest of Kenya.
The buildings affected by the attack on the complex have since been secured, confirmed Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiang’i.
Speaking at a press conference, Matiang’i said: “I can report that the country is secure, that the nation remains calm, that Kenyans and all of our visitors are safe and should feel free to continue going about their normal businesses. The situation is under control, and the country is safe.”
The sentiment was reiterated by Murray Gardiner, Co-Owner at Giltedge Africa saying: “Security has been heightened in and around the city, but calm and normalcy has returned.”
Matiang’i went on to pay tribute to the support and collaboration of the international community in standing up to terrorism.
“Terror and tourism don’t go together but we are also very happy that in less than 24 hours the attackers have been neutralised and hundreds of people given safe passage by the Kenya forces special squad,” said Hersi.
Jimi Kariuki, MD of Sarova Hotels & Resorts and Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board, said that acts of terror are also a major threat to countries who rely on tourism as a major driver of their economy. “Kenya is one such country where tourism is our second largest source of foreign exchange in the formal sector.”
“2018 was an excellent year for our tourism sector, as announced recently by our Tourism and Wildlife Ministry. 2019 is looking very good in terms of projected visitor arrivals. Incidents such as the one in Nairobi yesterday do indeed threaten our tourism industry. Though terrorism is global and no country can stand up and say that they are 100% safe from terrorism and crime, we are engaging with our overseas suppliers so as to reassure them that all is well in Nairobi and in Kenya and the tourism industry continues to operate as normal,” explained Kariuki.
According to a statement released by the African Travel & Tourism Association (Atta), the Kenya Tourism Federation confirmed that all means of transport were operating normal schedules, including the international airports in both Nairobi and Mombasa, including the train connection between Nairobi and Mombasa. “We are also happy that all tourist circuits across Kenya are operating normally,” read the statement.
“We have not experienced any cancellations since the rest of Nairobi and all other parks are fine. Even the Riverside Drive complex is being cleared and will reopen for business sooner than later,” added Hersi.
Frederik Schäfer, Sales and Marketing Manager of Severin Sea Lodge and Severin Safari Camp, told Tourism Update: “We don’t see any direct effect with regard to cancellations or amended tour programmes. We look to the future with a positive attitude and this devious attack should not influence Kenya’s great development with regard to new tourism demand.”
“Though we have received some messages of concern which is normal, we have not experienced any booking cancellations. What is important for us when incidents of this nature happen is that our overseas business partners stand with us. I am happy to say that so far we have received nothing short of messages of support from them,” concluded Kariuki.
Whilst Kenya is open for business and Nairobi calm, travellers are urged to keep an eye on travel advisories for more information, as many foreign countries have since updated travel advisories for citizens.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its travel advisory, however it does not include Kenya’s safari destinations in the national, reserves and wildlife conservancies, including the Aberdare National Park, Amboseli, Laikipia, Lake Nakuru, Masai Mara, Meru, Mount Kenya, Samburu, Shimba Hills, Tsavo, nor does it include Moi International Airport (Mombasa) or Malinidi Airport, and the beach resorts of Mombasa, Malindi, Kilifi, Watamu, Diani, Lamu Island and Manda Island.

Fuel price protests in Zimbabwe turn deadly

Reuters – 16 January 2019
HARARE (Reuters) – Several people were killed and some 200 arrested during protests in Zimbabwe on Monday, the government said, two days after it raised the price of fuel in an attempt to tame the worst economic crisis in a decade.
Police fired tear gas in the capital Harare and second city Bulawayo where protesters barricaded roads, burned tyres and chanted songs against President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who put up fuel prices in the hope of easing a currency shortage.
Security minister Owen Ncube said some people died at the protests, but gave no further details. He blamed the unrest on the main opposition party and political rights groups.
“Regrettably, this has resulted in the loss of life and property, including injury to police officers and members of the public. Full investigations are underway,” Ncube said in a statement.
The Human Rights Forum, a collective of local groups, said it had received reports that five people had sustained gunshot wounds. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said its Harare headquarters was torched late on Monday but the fire had been put out. It did not say who was behind the attack.
The authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of post-election violence in August in which six people were killed after the army intervened.
People run at a protest as barricades burn during rainfall in Harare, Zimbabwe January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
Riot police patrolled downtown Harare as army helicopters circled above. Businesses closed early and schools called parents to pick their children, fearing violence.
The main labor union called for a three-day stay-at-home strike starting Monday and central Harare was deserted by 4 p.m. Commuters walked home from the city center because there was no public transport.
“I am stranded in town now and I have no idea how I am going to go home,” resident Leeroy Kabanga told Reuters.
Airline Fastjet canceled its remaining flights to and from Zimbabwe on Monday due to the unrest.
Mnangagwa defended his fuel policy, saying prices in Zimbabwe were the lowest in the region.
“Zimbabwe is going through both political and economic reforms and these do not come easily. It will take time for things to settle and results to be shown,” he told reporters in Moscow at the start of a five-nation foreign trip that some analysts had expected him to cancel.
“In normal circumstances the president should have canceled the trip or booked a flight back home to deal with a very urgent situation, but it could be that he has absolute confidence that his deputy is in charge,” said Eldred Masunungure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.
Slideshow (5 Images)
Cash shortages have plunged the economy into disarray, threatening widespread social unrest and undermining Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors who left under Robert Mugabe, whose 40-year rule ended in a coup more than a year ago.
Everyday life is getting increasingly tough with the prices of basic goods spiraling and medical supplies in short supply. Motorists wait for hours to fill up at fuel stations where soldiers are often deployed to break up fights over who is next in line.
In Bulawayo, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters outside the High Court, according to video footage from the Centre For Innovation & Technology, an independent news service which also showed people looting a shop.
Brexit in peril if divorce deal voted down – May
Zimbabwe, which now uses the U.S. dollar after abandoning its currency in 2009 after hyperinflation, plans to introduce a new currency in the next 12 months.
But Zimbabweans are still traumatized by hyperinflation, which hit 500 billion percent in 2008 and left the local currency worthless, wiping out savings and pensions. Inflation reached 31 percent in November, the highest in a decade.
Businesses and civil servants are demanding to be paid in dollars. Zimbabwe’s largest brewing company Delta Beverages, part-owned by Anheuser-Busch Inbev, threatened to accept only U.S. dollars as payment but later reversed its decision after government-led negotiations.
The government on Monday postponed wage negotiations with civil service unions, who are planning a nationwide strike from Jan. 22 to press for U.S. dollar pay.

Amendments in ID Books & Birth Certificates

The Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992) read with the Identification Act, 1997 (Act No. 68 of 1997) provides for the rectification, amplification and amendment of the personal information of individuals as contained in the National Population Register of South Africa (NPR).

The aforesaid Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 provides for the following specific amendments:

Re-registering a child born out of wedlock
A child registered as born out of wedlock, whose parents later marry after the birth has been registered, may be re-registered as born within wedlock. Form BI-59 must be completed and submitted with proof of the marriage to any Home Affairs domestic office. Both parents must sign the said form in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths.

Inserting a forename or surname in a birth register of a person registered without a forename or surname (Section 23 of the births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992)
Applications for the insertion of a forename or surname, as the case may be, must be on a duly completed Form BI-795.

Inserting the biological father’s particulars in the birth register of a child born out of wedlock
Both parents must complete Form BI-1682 and submit it to any domestic Home Affairs office.
If the mother refuses her consent to the insertion, the father may apply to a High Court for exemption of the mother’s consent.

Altering a forename (Section 24 of births and Deaths Registration Act)
Form BI-85 must be completed in order to change a forename(s).
Tariffs vary for majors and for persons who have not entered into a legal marriage or who have not been declared as majors in terms of the Age of Majority Act.

Altering the surname of a minor (section 25 of births and Deaths Registration Act)
You can change the surname of a minor:
• If a child is born out of wedlock and the mother marries a person other than the child’s biological father and wishes to change the child’s surname to that of her husband.
• If a mother, after her divorce from or the death of her husband (father of child), wishes to change the child’s surname to her maiden surname or to another surname she bore legally; or if she has remarried, to the surname of her new husband.
• If a child is born out of wedlock but registered under the biological father’s surname and the mother wishes to change the child’s surname to hers
• If a minor is under the care of a guardian and the guardian wishes to change the child’s surname to his/hers.
• Other situations not mentioned above where a good and sufficient reason for the change exists.
Applications must be on a duly completed Form BI-193.
• The natural father’s written consent, unless waived by a competent court, is a statutory requirement in the case where the child was born in wedlock.
• The mother’s husband, whose surname the child is to assume, must also give his written consent to the assumption.
• Both the natural parents’ written consent is required as well as a good and sufficient reason, in writing, for the change.

Assuming a different surname (Section 26 of Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992)
A woman may assume her husband’s surname, or revert to her maiden surname or a prior surname she legally bore, and since 1997 a woman may also join her surname with that of her husband’s as a double-barreled surname.
No application to the Department of Home Affairs is necessary in these instances, but to enable the Department to update the Population Register, women should notify the Department of such changes in writing.
Apart from the aforesaid exclusions, no major may assume another surname unless such change of surname has been approved by the Director-General of Home Affairs and has been published in the Government Gazette. Applications in this regard may be lodged at any domestic Home Affairs office or any South African embassy, mission or consulate abroad.
Applications must be on a duly completed Form BI-196 and a good and sufficient reason, in writing, for the change must be furnished.

Changing gender
In terms of section 27(A) read with the provisions of the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act, 2003 (Act No.49 of 2003).
Applications can be made by:
Persons who have undergone a sex change operation or medical treatment resulting in their gender reassignment. In such cases two medical reports are required:
1. one by the medical practitioner who applied the procedure or medical treatment or by a medical practitioner who has experience in such procedures or treatments, and
2. a report by a second medical practitioner who has independently examined the application to established his/her gender.

Intersexed persons
In this category, the applicant must submit:
• a report by a medical practitioner corroborating that the applicant is intersexed, as well as
• a report by qualified psychologist or social worker corroborating that the applicant is living and has lived stably and satisfactorily, for an unbroken period of at least two years in the gender role corresponding to the sex description under which he or she seeks to be registered
Applications must be on Form BI-526 or a written request, accompanied by the required medical reports

Rectifying the date of birth, gender or place of birth in the birth register
Should any information contained within a document issued by the Department of Home Affairs be incorrect as a result of a departmental error, the error will be corrected free of charge.
However, if the mistake was on the part of the applicant, correction of the information will have to be applied for by completing Form BI-526 and the prescribed fee must be paid. Submission of proof of the correct information is a prerequisite in such instances

Amended UBC regulations are like rearranging chairs on the Titanic

13 Jan 2019 – by Tourism Update
The recent re-hashing of South Africa’s immigration regulations providing ‘clarity’ on the requirements for foreign minors to gain entry to the country has done nothing to help the destination market itself as a family-friendly destination.
In fact, amending the wording has simply provided an obfuscated message to our overseas tourism partners and travelling consumers, and has only served to sow further confusion among local industry stakeholders who are now left to explain what this means in practice for tourists coming to South Africa.
One need only read the recent article in the Daily Telegraph to see how one of our major source markets has interpreted the amended regulations. The headline reads: “Parents should still carry birth certificates despite relaxed rules, warns South Africa”. Need we say more?
According to the amended regulations, where a child presents a passport containing the details of his or her parent or parents, an immigration officer shall not require the child to produce a birth certificate. Our key source markets typically do not issue passports including the names of both parents, so this amendment will not ease access in any way.
The Gazetted regulations also state that children who are foreign nationals and who are visa exempt are strongly advised to carry supporting documents as stipulated in the advisory since they may still be requested to produce them when travelling through a port of entry of South Africa.
In essence, we are leaving it to the discretion of the immigration officer to, at random, request additional evidence and question what he or she deems as a “suspicious” individual.
What training has taken place in this short period to equip these individuals to make this decision and deal with these detained individuals? As organised tourism, we have no knowledge of this.
Would you risk coming to a country when there’s a chance you may pique the interest of an immigration official and be refused entry for 24 hours while you source documentation? Where will they keep your young family until you produce the proof they want?
Why ever would you put your family through such a gauntlet when there are so many other destinations that are rolling out the red carpet to welcome this lucrative tourism segment?
While yesterday’s Tourism Update article references the Home Affairs Ministry as having consulted with IATA as the representative of the airline industry, it must be said that IATA is a bureaucratic regulatory body. We have not heard from foreign carriers flying to South Africa that, as a result of these amended regulations, their check-in counter staff will cease demanding the documentation when families check-in.
And until we hear this, in our view the amended regulations change nothing.
In fact, despite this, airlines have been advised by the local airline association, that proving parental consent for travelling minors is still a requirement and that it “strongly” recommends that parents and/or accompanying adults continue to carry the required documentation with them.
If we want to position South Africa as a family-friendly holiday destination, this requirement must be scrapped unequivocally and the message disseminated to our key markets must be clear: we are open for business to any family, not just those that fit the two-parent mould, which frankly in this modern society, is ridiculous to expect as the norm.
By maintaining any requirement to produce an unabridged birth certificate or related documentation, even in certain circumstances, simply places a further deterrent to families who may be considering a holiday in South Africa.
If the President truly wants to see the tourism sector deliver the numbers and associated economic growth and jobs, he needs to intervene and scrap these regulations outright so that the industry can support his attempts to stimulate the economy.
The simple point of departure, Mr. President, is to sit down and ask the private tourism sector, the very people who can deliver on the tourism growth you desire, what it is we need to grow.
What we should not have done is start with the exact perpetrators of the draconian regulations that have retarded our industry for over three and a half years. The result has quite simply been the fudged wording of those same regulations.
Start with us, Mr. President. We are a well-organised industry, we can be accessed easily, and we are ready to get to work.

SA launches Africa’s most advanced nanosatellite

South Africa has successfully launched into space the continent’s most advanced nanosatellite to date – the ZACube-2.
The ZACube-2 will provide cutting edge remote sensing and communication services to South Africa and the region.
“This satellite will help us monitor our ocean traffic as part of our oceans economy and also monitor veld fires and provide near real-time fire information ensuring a quick response time by disaster management teams.
“Science is indeed helping us resolve the challenges of our society. I want to congratulate our space team for great work and this achievement,” Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said in a statement on Thursday.
The Minister said she is proud that the satellite was developed by some of South Africa’s youngest and brightest minds under a programme representing the country’s diversity, in particular black students and young women.
According to the Department of Science and Technology, the satellite is a technology demonstrator for Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) that will provide critical information for the county’s oceans economy.
It will monitor the movement of ships along the South African coastline with its automatic identification system (AIS) payload.
The Minister congratulated the team behind this historic moment, saying the launch of ZACube-2 represents a significant milestone in the nation’s ambition to becoming a key player in the innovative utilisation of space science and technology in responding to government priority areas.
The ZACube-2 took off at 04:07am with the Russian Soyuz Kanopus mission from the Vostochny spaceport. The cube-satellite left the earth together with small satellites from the United States, Japan, Spain, and Germany and is orbited as secondary payload in a launch mission designed for real-time monitoring of natural and manmade disasters and other emergencies, the department said.
Weighing just four kilograms, the ZACube-2 is South Africa’s second nanosatellite to be launched into space and three times the size of its predecessor, TshepisoSat.
“It is regarded as the continent’s most advanced cube satellite and is in fact a precursor to the MDASat – a constellation of nine nanosatellites that will be developed to provide cutting-edge very high frequency data exchange communication systems to the maritime industry,” the department said.
The department’s entity, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA), in cooperation with the University of Montpellier, the French Embassy and the Paris Chamber of Commerce, manages the project.
In April this year, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane attended the send-off ceremony and met the team young people who worked on the Zacube-2 at CPUT.
“The ZACube-2 will be given a new name soon, following a national satellite naming competition launched in April by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), an entity of the department. SAASTA received over 300 entries from Grade 4-12 learners. The results have been finalised and the new name of the nanosatellite will be announced in due course,” the department said.

Confusion as airlines continue to deny children boarding

Despite South Africa’s amendment to the Immigration Act, airlines continue to deny children boarding to SA.
The Department of Home Affairs has issued an advisory on its website that contradicts the relaxation of the regulations governing children travelling to SA.
The Amendment to the Immigration Act was gazetted on November 30 and removes the requirement for children travelling with both parents on a foreign passport to carry a birth certificate when they travel.
The following day the Department issued an Advisory on its website stating the opposite.
Airlines’ check-in staff around the world have been advised to follow this advisory and not the redrafted regulations that were gazetted on November 30 and heralded with much fanfare by government.
Throughout this saga, Home Affairs has been sharply criticised for not engaging with the travel and tourism sector and this represents a significant setback for SA’s attempts to win back a reputation as a child-friendly destination.
Home Affairs has justified the advisory on the basis that it gives effect to the Children’s Act of 2005.
It is the airlines that have the unwelcome role of administering Home Affairs’ regulations, as they face penalties if children arrive without a birth certificate.
A spokesperson for Geneva-based Iata, which uses its Timatic system to advise check-in staff of its member airlines on what travel documentation travellers need before boarding a flight to SA, told Tourism Update that they had been advised by SA government sources to use the advisory of the DHA website which states:
“3.1. Where both parents are travelling accompanied by one or more of their children, such children have to produce valid passports and a Birth Certificate (BC) for each child travelling.”
This is in complete contradiction to the Immigration Act Amendment.
Associate Professor of Law at Wits, Prof. Victoria Bronstein commented to Tourism Update that, when viewed in context, this appears to be some rear-guard action against the regulations.
“Although the document claims that the requirements for children travelling to or from SA is aimed at giving effect to the Children’s Act, 2005, the Children’s Act has nothing specific to say about this issue. It appears that the procedures for enacting Regulations in the Immigration Act are being circumvented by this informal advisory. If the amended Regulations are in force, this advisory is illegitimate.
“The current confusion about the requirements for children entering South Africa also suggests confusion and lack of transparency that cuts against rule of law requirements in the Constitution,” said Bronstein.
There is more confusion over whether the new regulations gazetted are in force or not.
Said the Professor: “The regulations appear to have been amended with effect from December 2018 even though the heading in the Government Gazette says Draft Regulations.”
The online legal service, Jutastat, in one version records the amendments as having taken effect on December 1, 2018. For two days Tourism Update has tried without success to get a spokesman from Home Affairs to clarify if the new Amendment is in force or not.
Home Affairs is required to consult with an Immigration Advisory Board over regulations. There is nobody from the private tourism and travel sector on the board to Tourism Update’s knowledge (and the spokespeople will not return our calls). The Department has also consistently slapped down attempts by the industry to engage with them on regulatory change.
In the meantime, airlines around the world are compelled to continue to deny boarding to children without birth certificates as hopes of positioning SA as a family-friendly destination evaporate.

High Court blocks disciplinary hearings against suspended immigration officers

Jan 7, 2019 – The Chronicle
The High Court has blocked the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage from convening a disciplinary hearing against eight immigration officers who are on suspension for allegedly receiving bribes from foreigners to alter visas.
The ruling by Justice Nicholas Mathonsi follows an ex-parte urgent chamber application filed at the Bulawayo High Court by Vincent Shoshore, Shillah Ndavani, Shepherd Gombwe, Simbarashe Nyamukachi, Joseph Raungana, Tichaona Munemo, Ruth Patience Mutasa and Misheck Chizema, through their lawyers seeking the suspension of their disciplinary proceedings pending another application in which they are challenging their suspension under Case Number HC1689/18.
The eight were suspended without pay and benefits following their arrest in May 2017 at Victoria Falls border post, Kazungula border post and Victoria Falls International Airport.
In their application they cited three members of the disciplinary committee only identified as Mr T Pasipamire, Mr R Munyaradzi and Mr C Marawa, as respondents.
Justice Mathonsi nullified the disciplinary hearings against the applicants pending the finalisation of the matter in which the eight immigration officers are challenging their suspensions.
“The respondents be and hereby directed to suspend proceeding with the disciplinary proceedings against the applicants in this matter before finalisation of the matter pending under HC1689/18,” ruled the judge.
In their affidavits, the immigration officers led by Ms Ndavani said they were suspended in May 2017. letters written to them by their bosses preferring charges of misconduct against them should be declared unlawful.
“This is an urgent application to suspend disciplinary proceedings pending the determination of a matter under HC1689/18 involving the applicants and their employer and four other respondents. The determination of that matter has a bearing on the disciplinary proceedings,” said Ms Ndavani in her founding affidavit.
She said the intention of the hearing was to have them fired.
“The respondents are bent on proceeding with the hearing and our fear is that the disciplinary committee is notorious for considering matters in the absence of employees and pretends that there would have been a formal hearing. Their intention, as evident from their conduct, is to dismiss us at all costs,” said Ms Ndavani.
Ms Ndavani said there has been an inordinate delay in finalising the disciplinary process.
“A period of 12 months cannot by any stretch of imagination be deemed to be a reasonable period. To make matters worse, the suspension order has been extended four times and we are not being paid salaries and this is adversely affecting our livelihoods,” she said.
The immigration officers were arrested on fraud charges at their workplaces following an audit at the three ports of entry. The matter is still pending before the court.
Allegations are that the immigration officers, acting separately, attended to visitors from different countries and recorded lesser amounts in receipt books and pocketed the difference thereby prejudicing the State of varying amounts of money.
British, American and Canadian visitors pay $55, $30, and $75 respectively for a single entry visa and the accused would allegedly record everyone as American and pocket the difference.
It is alleged that the crime had been happening for some time until recently when authorities within the Immigration Department noted some irregularities and launched an investigation into the visa scam.