Home affairs is improving daily, not plotting darkly

Sunday Times – 27 May 2018
In “A parallel, shadow regime has hijacked control of SA’s borders” (May 20), Gary Eisenberg claims that “control of our borders was ultimately wrestled by the Department of Home Affairs from more than 18 state departments and parastatals, including Sars, by Gigaba’s championing of the Border Management Authority Bill”.
Minister Gigaba was not at home affairs when the National Assembly approved the bill in 2017 and referred it to the National Council of Provinces — that was former minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.
It is unthinkable that Eisenberg’s imaginary “complex” is busy hatching “a silent coup” in some quiet dark corner of the land, “seizing power from other departments” through a yet-to-be-established border management authority, for the use of top home affairs managers.
We are expected to believe with no proof shared that compliant applications are frequently rejected and appeals and ministerial exemption applications are stymied. The department maintains a high standard of professional ethics, provides services impartially, and strives for accountability and transparency.
The changes we have made, which Eisenberg ignored, benefit even foreign nationals, including developing a Trusted Traveller system for bona fide frequent travellers, providing biometric capability at four airports and six land ports and introducing a visa exemption for Russia that increased tourist travel from there by 51% in 2017, year on year.
This year we will simplify visa requirements for Chinese and Indian visitors and ease the entry of people with valid visas from countries such as the US and the UK.
Working closely with stakeholders, including the departments of tourism and transport, the Airports Company South Africa and the tourism industry, we will develop and implement a strategy to grow South Africa as an attractive and efficient transit hub and destination for tourists and businesspeople.
Mayihlome Tshwete, spokesman for Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba
Tangled in red tape
Gary Eisenberg’s article on immigration mapped out the entanglement of the Department of Home Affairs in unaccountability.
The centralisation of decision-making was responsible for several multiple applications for citizenship by married couples, ending with only one of the partners being processed.
My wife knows and we have met others still trying — after more than eight years. The abolition of permanent residents’ permits, demoting them to visas, is the latest step in the capture of the borders. Tom Morgan, Cape Town
Israel and Gaza: it’s complicated
Ranjeni Munusamy, in “No long-term game plan in SA’s handling of Israel’s attack on Gaza” (May 20), makes some good points but is biased. Critics may well have differing opinions on Israel’s response to the Hamas-led attack on the border fence, but Israel did not attack Gaza.
If Hamas fighters had entered Israel and attacked citizens, the Israeli response would have led to many more deaths. I am aware of the total frustration of the Gazan people and I would really like them to have an independent state, but if border blockades are removed there will be a flood of arms brought into Gaza.
I don’t know what the solution is for the struggling Gazan people and the worried Israeli nation. It is certainly not Israel’s inflammatory settlement policies, nor Hamas terrorist attacks on Jews. Either way, I expect a publication like the Sunday Times to reflect all sides and allow readers to make up their own minds.
D Wolpert, Rivonia

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