Apr 20, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Radebe: Xenophobic violence hitting economy

Apr 17 2015 15:09 Donwald Pressly – Fin24

Cape Town – Attacks on foreigners in South Africa are damaging the country’s international image as well as its economy, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Friday.
At a post-Cabinet briefing at Parliament, Radebe said: “The impact of these attacks has far-reaching implications on our economic, social (links) and relations with the (African) continent and the world.
“No amount of frustration or anger can justify these attacks and looting of shops. Whilst noting the issues raised by communities, violence towards another fellow human being can never solve these issues,” he said.
In particular, the City of Durban – part of the eThekwini Municipality – and its black townships have been hit by violence directed against foreigners and their small businesses in the past week.
“It reflects badly on us as a people, going against the very ideals and foundations of our democracy,” he said.
Noting that the attacks on foreign businesses in South Africa could have terrible consequences for South Africans operating businesses on the African continent, Radebe said: “South African companies who are running successful businesses on the continent who help to contribute to our revenue and sustaining our economy may suffer the same fate.”
South African artists who were to showcase their craft across the borders, such as Big Nuz in Zimbabwe, Kelly Khumalo and Casper in London, have had their concerts cancelled as a result of the attacks domestically.
“Many of our communities who rely on shops owned by foreign nationals for their bread and butter are now stranded.”
Radebe said that economic cluster ministers like trade and industry, small business and social development were joining Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in a Cabinet committee which would study the “underlying socio-economic conditions” which contributed to the attacks on foreigners.
“Those involved in those attacks should be aware of the huge damage that this is doing to the image of South Africa… we are the last people who should be accused… of such acts.”
He said South African struggle fighters had been housed and supported all over Africa and the rest of the world. “The struggle against apartheid would not have been won were it not for the… anti-apartheid movement around the world.”
South Africa now owes foreigners the right of respect. “Let us respect our African brothers,” he said.

Apr 17, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Put your matters on the table: Gigaba

Put your matters on the table: Gigaba
April 15 2015 at 03:08pm
By MPHATHI NXUMALO – Daily News
Durban – The Department of Home Affairs would help foreigners who wanted to go back to their home countries the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, said in Durban on Tuesday.
At a media briefing he said 65 officials had been made available to issue emergency certificates for people wanting to return home.
Gigaba said the Ethiopian government had been repatriating its citizens for the past nine months and more than 1 000 had chosen to go home.
He said this after meeting various ambassadors about the violence that has erupted in the province.
While the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday that it was deeply concerned about the xenophobic attacks and had sent an assessment mission to Durban on Tuesday.
“The vast majority of refugees and asylum seekers on arrival in the country present themselves to the authorities and are given documents that allow them to stay legally in the country. To lump them in the category of illegal migrants and or unlawful residents, is not only incorrect but serves to stigmatise them rather than to acknowledge that the circumstances of their plight require that they be protected,” said regional representative, Clementine Nkweta-Salami.
Gigaba said South Africa had one of the highest rates of economic migrants in Africa because of the strong economy.
There was also a high number of asylum seekers in the country.
The department was aware that as much as 95 percent of people applying for asylum were not actual asylum seekers, but economic migrants.
“They end up making stories where there are none,” Gigaba said.
He said the department was making plans for the regularisation of economic migrants.
“Immigrants have a positive contribution to make to South Africa,” he said.
The perception that immigrants did not pay tax was incorrect as most did and those who did not, fell into the category of people who are exempt from tax.
An inter-ministerial committee has been formed to combat the current wave of violence. The committee consists of the departments of Home Affairs, Police and State Security, which would advise on the best way to reintegrate people back into the communities.
“The priority now is to save lives and not whether they are illegal or not,” Gigaba said.
The briefing was also attended by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu who said he rejected violence against anyone.
“All we are saying is put your matters on the table and let’s discuss them… We have long ears as government to listen to our people,” Mchunu said.
Crime intelligence officials are also working on curbing the xenophobic violence.
The eThekwini Municipality said what was happening was unacceptable, adding that teams from various government departments and the city were working with all concerned stakeholders.
Daily News

Apr 17, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

UNEMBARGOED: A fast-growing economy will rid us of xenophobia

by Songezo Zibi, 13 April 2015 – Business Day
AT THE time of writing, a gruesome photograph showing a man with multiple gashes possibly inflicted with a machete on his back was doing the rounds on social media.
Captions accompanying the picture claimed it was taken at a Durban hospital and the victim was wounded in the current wave of gratuitous violence against immigrants there.
I could not verify the image in time but the picture nonetheless kicked off a storm of debate and pleas on social media for fellow South Africans to stop being “xenophobic”. According to the Collins English dictionary, which is the one Business Day prefers in matters of style, “xenophobia is hatred or fear of foreigners or of their politics or culture”.
Indeed, when one is moved to bring down a sharp machete on the body of another human being in the hope of killing him or her it is less an act of love and more of hate. That much is obvious, but what is missing in the dictionary, in our current discourse and media coverage is a proper examination of the reasons.
Even Business Day has glibly referred to these attacks as xenophobic. In a week where the centre of national discourse has been the removal of a colonial statue and its meaning, desperate non-South Africans being killed in KwaZulu-Natal following the reckless comments of a monarch were never going to get a decent look-in. They’re just not as important, I guess.
Last week we tried desperately to obtain pictures of the Durban events for our front page but fell terribly short. We eventually went with something else, regrettably, and the matter has continued to stay relatively under the radar despite the human toll.
What is typical of South African discourse, however, is the failure to seek honest and deep understanding of why we have these attacks. To hear the intonations of those with polished English on social media you cannot but be amazed by the elitist and even racist stereotyping around this issue.
While no one says it in so many words, the dominant view, despite desperate attempts by some to infuse depth into the discussion, appears to be that these are the actions of ignorant, poor black people. Others even proclaim that this is a sign of “self-hatred” by black South Africans who single out black African immigrants for violence.
They need to be educated so that they understand that people such as national hero Chris Hani, whose death was commemorated under extremely cheesy, factionalist circumstances last week, were once refugees in other African countries.
The argument, it seems, is that as soon as a light is shone on this historical fact the angry masses will feel ashamed and put their machetes back to normal usage. This is problematic on at least two fronts.
First, it betrays an ignorance among the very people who claim the perpetrators of these horrors are ignorant. The objective facts of any situation are easy to spell out but context is always a decider. In this case the narrow argument put forward is that immigrants are more enterprising while poor South Africans are lazy.
This view is as ignorant as the general view from the government that these are just acts of criminality which need to be dealt with by the police.
Of course, the same police are unlikely to conduct inquiries into whether the comments by King Goodwill Zwelithini and Edward Zuma (the president’s son, no less) amounted to incitement.
Second, there is very little effort to understand why, if South Africans are generally xenophobic, we do not see the same hostility towards immigrants from elsewhere. After getting familiar with the activities of Radovan Krejcir, one would think eastern European immigrants are an unpopular lot, but no. Ditto Basotho from Lesotho, Swazilanders, Batswana from Botswana, Namibians and others. The underlying picture is a lot more complex and somewhat unpalatable.
Poor black people are more likely to engage in or be on the receiving end of these acts of violence because they bear the brunt of our currently severe economic pressures. There is simply not enough to go around in the way of income and opportunities. People are desperate.
Apart from government grants there is little in the way of state protection against immigrant “encroachment” for the wretched, unlike the middle and professional classes who pontificate about ignorance.
If the government were to determine that henceforth conditions for immigrants to get skilled jobs would be relaxed, and all black professionals and business people from the African continent qualified for BEE and employment equity, the sense of “enlightenment” among the middle classes would vanish. Even the not uncommon argument that Africa’s borders are colonial and should be done away with would trigger massive resistance if it were to win.
One already hears complaints about how private sector employers prefer Zimbabweans at the expense of black South Africans. For the purposes of employment equity compliance an African immigrant does not count. You only need to talk to the average black professional from an Eskom power station, for instance and you’ll hear this refrain more than once.
So is “xenophobia” a problem afflicting only poor black people? It seems the moment people feel their income security is threatened they develop hostility towards those they consider to be the “others” who should not be in the race for income and opportunities to begin with. People do not randomly wake up and kill others for no reason. It does not make it right whatsoever, but it solves nothing to misdiagnose the causes.
While policing is critical in the short term, it is by no means a long-term solution. It is even less likely that education about the foreign travels of Oliver Tambo will do the trick.
What we need is an economy that is growing fast, with a structure that is sufficiently inclusive to remove the sense of hopelessness engulfing many poor black South Africans.
It would be dishonest to propose that this is not the central factor driving all of this.

Apr 17, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Rather than fan flames, MPs must call department to order

David Cote, April 16 2015- Business Day Live
PARLIAMENT’s portfolio committee on home affairs released a statement last week — titled, Flouting of immigration regulations a concern — in which it warned foreign nationals in SA not to commit crimes and put “in jeopardy the basis on which they are in SA”.
The committee quoted instances from the recent mugging of South African Broadcasting Corporation journalists to foreigners’ “alleged” involvement in the killing of police officers along the N3 highway near Johannesburg. The committee (or perhaps the chairperson) used these examples to “highlight the challenges of foreign nationals breaking laws of the country”.
It needs to be said that this trend among our government leaders to blame foreign nationals for crime is not rooted in fact but rather in fear. Foreign nationals are no more involved in crime than any other segment of our society.
Allegations that asylum seekers enter for financial reasons are for government officials to determine, not the committee.
Unfortunately, when crime is committed by non-South Africans, media reports usually mention the accused’s immigration status as somehow being relevant, which it is not. This creates the impression that it is mainly foreigners committing crime. Crime is a multifaceted phenomenon, here and elsewhere, and attempts to put the blame on foreign nationals for the high crime rate does not detract from the failings of our society to deal with inequality and a criminal justice system under threat from a lack of resources and political interference.
Oddly, the committee, which is the watchdog of the Department of Home Affairs, has not issued a single statement about the department’s near-daily flouting of the Immigration Act and its regulations, the Refugees Act and its regulations, and the Citizenship Act.
This includes the unlawful detention and deportation of asylum seekers and refugees, corruption at the country’s refugee reception offices, poor decision making by the Refugee Appeal Board, unlawful blocking of identity documents, exceedingly high visa fees and the regular failure to abide by court orders, for example, to release unlawfully detained children or reopen refugee reception offices.
In fact, the committee was markedly silent when the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a judgment last month in which it severely criticised Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni for misleading the court about the decision to close the refugee reception office in Port Elizabeth, failing to abide by two court orders requiring the office to be reopened and, particularly significant for the committee, misleading Parliament about the opening of a new office at Lebombo near the Mozambican border crossing at Komatipoort. Not a peep.
Stakeholders and refugee groups in Port Elizabeth have obtained two court orders in that city requiring home affairs to reopen the refugee reception office.
The office was closed to new applicants with one day’s notice in 2011 after the director-general had taken a decision to close the office with no public consultation or consultation with the standing committee on refugee affairs as required by the Refugees Act. That decision was taken on appeal but the Supreme Court of Appeal refused to even hear the matter, saying there was no prospect of success.
While that appeal process was under way, Apleni made a “new” decision to close the office but did not inform the court or the community until four months later. That was also found to be unlawful by the High Court the following year but that court order was ignored and the matter taken on appeal. This time, the Supreme Court of Appeal did hear the matter, dismissed the appeal and ordered home affairs to reopen the office by July 15 this year and to submit monthly progress reports to stakeholders on the progress in reopening the office.
The court was particularly critical of a misleading answer from home affairs about the opening of the office at Lebombo. When asked whether an office would be open at Lebombo, and if so, when and how much it would cost, the home affairs minister responded, “No”.
When confronted on this answer due to the central role Lebombo is supposed to play in replacing closed offices, the director-general responded that the answer was misinterpreted because an unspecified parliamentary convention requires answers only for the present financial year. The court did not buy this argument and found misleading Parliament in this way was a dangerous precedent for our constitutional democracy.
The committee has not issued a single statement about the flouting of our Constitution. Perhaps, despite this damning judgment, the committee’s failure to comment should not be very surprising.
At a committee meeting on March 3, the chairperson protected Apleni from answering any questions about the numerous court orders invalidating the various decisions to close refugee reception offices in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town with no alternative offices opened. Mr Apleni hid behind the sub judice rule (which is in and of itself mostly defunct after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling in Midi Television) because he did not want to give contradictory statements from what he said in court papers. Contradictory? Can we therefore trust what he said in the papers if he is worried about contradicting himself?
The chairperson also assisted him by blocking questions about the cost of the centre at Lebombo. This centre, which has been on the cards since 2011 and which the director-general has rigorously pursued according to his court papers, apparently does not yet have a price tag. South African (and non-South African) taxpayers will apparently have to wait until it is built to know how much it cost.
The role of a parliamentary oversight committee is to conduct oversight of a government department. When that government department blatantly lies to it and breaks the law by not abiding by court orders, the committee should have a thing or two to say about it.
Rather, this committee issues dangerous statements in an environment of tense xenophobic violence and riot police dispersing law-abiding (foreign national) protesters in Durban.
This is highly irresponsible and is, quite frankly, putting people’s lives as risk.
Commentary is the soul of parliamentary democracy and while debating everyone’s concerns about the general state of crime in SA is important, we ask that the committee also express its concerns about the department’s unlawful activities and, instead of shielding a director-general who has shown himself to be economic with the truth, ask him the tough questions and make him responsible for his actions.
Then the committee will be playing the oversight role that the Constitution mandates it to.
• Cote heads the Strategic Litigation Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights.

Apr 17, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

‘Don’t incite violence against foreigners’

Home Affairs on Monday said it was important for all South Africans not to incite xenophobic violence.
Govan Whittles -16/4/2015 EWN news
JOHANNESBURG – The Department of Home Affairs on Monday said while tensions were running high between African foreigners and residents of KwaMashu and Umlazi in Durban, it was important for leaders and all South Africans at large to make sure their comments did not incite violence.

In the latest incident, two Ethiopian brothers were petrol-bombed in Umlazi on Friday evening, with one of them reportedly succumbing to his injuries.

Another five shops were looted on Friday, forcing more Ethiopians in the area to flee.

It is alleged a Pakistani family were also affected after their business was destroyed.

At least 28 people were arrested on Sunday night during xenophobic violence in which Somali, Ethiopian and Pakistani people were attacked.

Four people had been killed since Friday in the same area.

Home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said, “We should do everything possible to make sure our words and actions don’t incite violence and if we see anyone do that we must make it clear that we, as South Africans, don’t support any violent activity.”
The Somali Embassy in Pretoria said it had begun tracing all of its citizens who were in South Africa legally in an effort to take them back home following the violence.

At the same time, the embassy described the attacks on its citizens in the province as shocking and said it’s written a letter to the International Relations Department asking for urgent assistance.

The embassy’s commercial and economic head Yusuf Olusu said, “It’s really bad and we hope the government will do something as we have submitted our complaints to them.”

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has called for more stringent action from the South African government, to address the spate of xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natal.

Last week, AU chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma raised concerns over the displacement of hundreds of foreign nationals in the province.

President Jacob Zuma has also weighed in, saying that government was deeply concerned by the violence, and urged locals to treat foreigners with respect.

Apr 16, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Rather than fan flames, MPs must call department to order

by David Cote, April 16 2015 – Business Day Live
PARLIAMENT’s portfolio committee on home affairs released a statement last week — titled, Flouting of immigration regulations a concern — in which it warned foreign nationals in SA not to commit crimes and put “in jeopardy the basis on which they are in SA”.
The committee quoted instances from the recent mugging of South African Broadcasting Corporation journalists to foreigners’ “alleged” involvement in the killing of police officers along the N3 highway near Johannesburg. The committee (or perhaps the chairperson) used these examples to “highlight the challenges of foreign nationals breaking laws of the country”.
It needs to be said that this trend among our government leaders to blame foreign nationals for crime is not rooted in fact but rather in fear. Foreign nationals are no more involved in crime than any other segment of our society.
Allegations that asylum seekers enter for financial reasons are for government officials to determine, not the committee.
Unfortunately, when crime is committed by non-South Africans, media reports usually mention the accused’s immigration status as somehow being relevant, which it is not. This creates the impression that it is mainly foreigners committing crime. Crime is a multifaceted phenomenon, here and elsewhere, and attempts to put the blame on foreign nationals for the high crime rate does not detract from the failings of our society to deal with inequality and a criminal justice system under threat from a lack of resources and political interference.
Oddly, the committee, which is the watchdog of the Department of Home Affairs, has not issued a single statement about the department’s near-daily flouting of the Immigration Act and its regulations, the Refugees Act and its regulations, and the Citizenship Act.
This includes the unlawful detention and deportation of asylum seekers and refugees, corruption at the country’s refugee reception offices, poor decision making by the Refugee Appeal Board, unlawful blocking of identity documents, exceedingly high visa fees and the regular failure to abide by court orders, for example, to release unlawfully detained children or reopen refugee reception offices.
In fact, the committee was markedly silent when the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a judgment last month in which it severely criticised Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni for misleading the court about the decision to close the refugee reception office in Port Elizabeth, failing to abide by two court orders requiring the office to be reopened and, particularly significant for the committee, misleading Parliament about the opening of a new office at Lebombo near the Mozambican border crossing at Komatipoort. Not a peep.
Stakeholders and refugee groups in Port Elizabeth have obtained two court orders in that city requiring home affairs to reopen the refugee reception office.
The office was closed to new applicants with one day’s notice in 2011 after the director-general had taken a decision to close the office with no public consultation or consultation with the standing committee on refugee affairs as required by the Refugees Act. That decision was taken on appeal but the Supreme Court of Appeal refused to even hear the matter, saying there was no prospect of success.
While that appeal process was under way, Apleni made a “new” decision to close the office but did not inform the court or the community until four months later. That was also found to be unlawful by the High Court the following year but that court order was ignored and the matter taken on appeal. This time, the Supreme Court of Appeal did hear the matter, dismissed the appeal and ordered home affairs to reopen the office by July 15 this year and to submit monthly progress reports to stakeholders on the progress in reopening the office.
The court was particularly critical of a misleading answer from home affairs about the opening of the office at Lebombo. When asked whether an office would be open at Lebombo, and if so, when and how much it would cost, the home affairs minister responded, “No”.
When confronted on this answer due to the central role Lebombo is supposed to play in replacing closed offices, the director-general responded that the answer was misinterpreted because an unspecified parliamentary convention requires answers only for the present financial year. The court did not buy this argument and found misleading Parliament in this way was a dangerous precedent for our constitutional democracy.
The committee has not issued a single statement about the flouting of our Constitution. Perhaps, despite this damning judgment, the committee’s failure to comment should not be very surprising.
At a committee meeting on March 3, the chairperson protected Apleni from answering any questions about the numerous court orders invalidating the various decisions to close refugee reception offices in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town with no alternative offices opened. Mr Apleni hid behind the sub judice rule (which is in and of itself mostly defunct after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling in Midi Television) because he did not want to give contradictory statements from what he said in court papers. Contradictory? Can we therefore trust what he said in the papers if he is worried about contradicting himself?
The chairperson also assisted him by blocking questions about the cost of the centre at Lebombo. This centre, which has been on the cards since 2011 and which the director-general has rigorously pursued according to his court papers, apparently does not yet have a price tag. South African (and non-South African) taxpayers will apparently have to wait until it is built to know how much it cost.
The role of a parliamentary oversight committee is to conduct oversight of a government department. When that government department blatantly lies to it and breaks the law by not abiding by court orders, the committee should have a thing or two to say about it.
Rather, this committee issues dangerous statements in an environment of tense xenophobic violence and riot police dispersing law-abiding (foreign national) protesters in Durban.
This is highly irresponsible and is, quite frankly, putting people’s lives as risk.
Commentary is the soul of parliamentary democracy and while debating everyone’s concerns about the general state of crime in SA is important, we ask that the committee also express its concerns about the department’s unlawful activities and, instead of shielding a director-general who has shown himself to be economic with the truth, ask him the tough questions and make him responsible for his actions.
Then the committee will be playing the oversight role that the Constitution mandates it to.
• Cote heads the Strategic Litigation Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights.

Apr 16, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Grab these three markets segments, SA Tourism tells trade

02 Apr 2015 – Tourism Update
The ‘Next Stop South Africa’ traveller, the ‘Wanderlusters’ and Nigerians are three key market segments for travel to South Africa, according to Aneshree Rambally of South African Tourism’s Welcome South Africa campaign.
Rambally was speaking at SA Tourism’s third Power of One Roadshow in Midrand on Tuesday when she encouraged industry members to do more to understand these three key segments and, by doing so, grow their business without spending money on marketing investments.
“With the Welcome campaign, lots of research goes into understanding and unpacking markets, so when looking at those insights we can create experiences that appeal specifically to these key markets,” said Rambally. “What we found with the ‘Next Stop South Africa’ market or experienced international travellers, is that they are an older generation, a more mature segment. Chances are they have had kids, their kids have left home and they have extra income to now travel.”
According to Rambally, this segment is looking for luxury and opulence and either travel as a couple or as a small intimate group. The way this segment connects with a destination is purely through the scenic beauty of that destination.
They was also very safety and security sensitive and asked questions around this, she said. “So you need to look at how you package that message of safety,” she said, adding that it impacted the perceptions of travelling to South Africa as a whole.
Rambally described the Wanderluster traveller as a younger market segmemt between the ages of 25 and 40. They are typically higher income earners and well travelled. “This type of tourist is very positive about South Africa and chances are that they will become a mobile, walking billboard, promoting your product on social media and online.
“Their emotional appeal is through connecting and having genuine experiences with local people. This does not just mean the people out there; it could be the people at the front desk or waiters. These are the type of tourists who want to connect with you and understand where you go on the weekends, what do you do for fun, and that is the kind of experience they are expecting,” she said.
The Nigerian market was growing and was coming to South Africa with American dollars to spend, Rambally said. “In research we have done, we found that Nigerians feel that the South African industry does not value them as much as they do the European or American market and we need to do more to change that and treat them with respect because they are here to stay.”
The Nigerian market also likes opulence and is predominantly coming to South Africa for business and to shop. To benefit from this segment, the trade needed to think of ways to encourage longer stays, taking day trips and promoting an upmarket experience that would appeal to Nigerians, Rambally advised.
However, some members of the audience raised their concerns about the Nigerian market. According to one member, in a year he received 6 000 bookings from Nigerians and only one of them was a genuine booking. According to the guest house owner, many Nigerians will make bookings on sites such as bookings.com to secure their visa but then they never turn up. As a result, he has decided to reject any bookings made from the Nigerian market.
Another problem, said a guest house owner, was that owners were now forced to validate credit cards and request passport information, which then upset Nigerian guests who felt they were being insulted.
Rambally agreed that validating bookings remained a problem of the Nigerian market, but maintained that the point of the presentation was to encourage the trade to unpack markets with potential so that they could tailor product and provide value-added experiences that would improve the experience of the tourist.