Apr 29, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

333 874 foreigners have overstayed their welcome in SA – police

2015-04-28 16:00
Philda Essop, Media 24 Parliamentary Bureau
Cape Town – Since 2010, a total of 333 874 foreigners have overstayed their welcome in South Africa, Netwerk24 reported on Tuesday.
In contrast, 889 943 foreigners were working legally in the country over that period. Since attacks on foreigners began earlier this month, 2 767 foreigners were voluntarily repatriated to Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
This emerged on Tuesday during a briefing of Parliament’s home affairs and police portfolio committees by the home affairs department.
Attacks on foreigners erupted earlier this month in KwaZulu-Natal and spread to Gauteng. Foreign-owned shops were looted and petrol-bombed. At least seven people have been killed and scores injured and displaced.
The police’s head of special operations, Major General Charl Annandale, told MPs that attacks on foreigners had decreased over the last 10 days.
He said causes of the violence included competition for access to help, work and business opportunities, failure to regulate businesses at a local level, the involvement of foreign communities in drug dealing and trade in stolen goods, and the spreading of false information on social media.
The police’s National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure and similar structures at provincial level had been meeting twice daily as part of government’s plan to stop the attacks. The plan’s aims included ensuring safety and security and international co-operation, and providing humanitarian aid.
Authorities were being deployed to hot spots daily, special courts had been established, shelters set up, and dedicated investigators put to work. All intelligence agencies had prioritised gathering information on attacks against foreigners.
Opposition parties wanted information on the costs of the plan and criticised home affairs for not investing enough in its inspectorate, which enforces immigration laws.

Apr 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Johannesburg raids target foreigners

by Ntwaagae Seleka, April 28 2015, Business Day
MIGRANTS who were not in possession of permits were arrested on Monday as a result of site visits to Mayfair and Hillbrow in Johannesburg by military personnel, police officers and Department of Home Affairs officials.
In Mayfair, Johannesburg, African immigrants implored fellow foreign nationals to make sure they were in possession of the relevant permits to stay in the country.
During the daytime raid, East African nationals welcomed the joint operation in the area. The authorities’ actions were intended to clamp down on undocumented foreign nationals and weed out criminal elements.
An Ethiopian businessman operating in the suburb, Mohammed Rashad, applauded the presence of law enforcement agencies on Monday and called for similar activity in future.
“We thought xenophobia was back and closed our shops. We became comfortable when we saw all of them here, including home affairs officers,” he said.
Police spokesman Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said similar operations would be conducted in other parts of the city. No one was arrested during the Mayfair raid.
In another blitz in Hillbrow, 50 suspected illegal immigrants were detained, the police said.
Mr Dlamini said: “The people we arrested were not in possession of the correct papers. We have handed them to officials at home affairs for processing.”
Asked what prompted the raid, he said: “We were conducting an ordinary crime-prevention exercise and operations will continue elsewhere.”
No possessions were confiscated during either operation.
Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete was not immediately available last night to comment on the legal status or the nationalities of the migrants who were taken into custody.
SA has been gripped by a wave of xenophobic violence that erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and spread to parts of Gauteng.
A speech made by King Goodwill Zwelithini during which he is said to have likened foreign national to “lice” and called for them to leave the country, has widely been cited as a possible cause of the latest occurrence of violence directed at mostly African migrants.
Hundreds of African migrants have been displaced by the violence with most having lost the bulk of their possessions.
The government has set up makeshift camps in KwaZulu-Natal for those who have been displaced by violence in the province.
Dozens of other migrants have been bused home.
The diplomatic fallout from the violence has seen Sasol and Irish firm Kenmare repatriate their South African workers from operations in Mozambique in fear of reprisal attacks. Protests have been reported in Malawi.
Also, last week reports surfaced of four men threatening the South African diplomatic mission in Ghana. There have also been calls to boycott South African firms and products in the wake of the violence, which has claimed seven lives so far.

Apr 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

South African minister vows to visit Ramallah despite Israeli ban

Pretoria will ‘take action’ if Blade Nzimande not allowed to enter Israel, spokesman says
By Raphael Ahren April 27, 2015, The Times of Israel
A South African minister who planned to visit Ramallah but was denied entry permission by Israel insists that he will visit the Palestinian Authority nonetheless.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande will “definitely” visit Ramallah, though how he will get there has yet to be established, his spokesman Alex Mashil told The Times of Israel on Monday. Pretoria might “take action” if the ban is not lifted, he threatened.
“We will not allow Israel to determine for us which minister in the cabinet can or cannot visit Palestine. That undermines our sovereignty and national self-determination and we will not allow it,” Mashil said.
Nzimande maintains that the Israeli government cannot intimidate him and therefore “he wanted to rebel against them,” sources close to the issue told the South African newspaper The Citizen.
Last week, Nzimande — the leader of the South African Communist Party — reacted furiously to Israel’s refusal of a visa, calling it a “declaration of diplomatic aggression on our government” and vowing to intensify nationwide efforts to boycott Israel.
Israeli officials confirmed that Nzimande had been denied entrance but did not specify a reason. The South African minister said he was told the reasons for the ban related to his anti-Israel agitation. Jerusalem had labeled him an “enemy of Israel,” his spokesperson told The Citizen.
One Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, recalled that Nzimande and his party last year vocally called on the government in Pretoria to deny an entry visa to the Dalai Lama, citing their good ties with China. Last year, the South African Communist Party accused the Tibetan monk of using his planned (and ultimately canceled) trip “to use the political prestige of visiting South Africa to try and legitimate his secessionist agenda.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday called the minister’s response “hypocritical,” saying that there is much racism and xenophobic violence in South Africa and that the government and the Communist Party “should stop preaching to and attacking Israel, which is a glorious democracy.”
One Israeli official suggested that Nzimande was barred from coming to Israel since he was planning to use the country merely as “a transit point” on his way to Ramallah, refusing to meet Israeli officials.
Nzimande is known to be ferociously critical of Israel, but other senior South African officials with similar views have been receiving visas in recent months, including Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau and Deputy Minister Obed Bapela, the head of the ruling ANC party’s international relations committee.
Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria, Arthur Lenk, refused to comment on this “specific consular issue that was decided in Jerusalem,” but confirmed that Israel regularly facilitates travel arrangements for South African officials, even if they are only interested in visiting the Palestinians and do not interact with Israelis.
“We have no problem with the fact that South Africa has a close relationship with our neighbors,” Lenk told The Times of Israel on Monday, adding that the ANC’s historical relationship with the Palestinians could actually be helpful.
“South Africa and its achievements 21 years ago came about through negotiation, compromise and co-existence. Those are all lessons that the Palestinians should hear and learn from,” he said. “It’s not a zero-sum game. It doesn’t have to be that we’re friends with one side and not friends with the other a priori.”
The denial of Nzimande’s planned trip to Ramallah meant that a government minister would never be able to travel to Israel or Palestine, his spokesman Khaye Nkwanyana said last week, and “has effectively barred all South African officials from visiting both countries.”
Nzimande was meant to meet with his Palestinian counterpart, Khawla Shksheer, to discuss the implementation of a memorandum of understanding between Ramallah and Pretoria signed in November by presidents Jacob Zuma and Mahmoud Abbas, Mashilo, the Communist Party’s national spokesperson, said.
“This cooperation agreement has to be taken forward, whether the Palestinian minister comes to South Africa or the South African minister comes to Palestine. But we will not abandon our quest to demand the right to visit Palestine,” Mashilo said.
Nzimande and three aides had attempted to reach Ramallah via Jordan, but as Israel controls the border crossings into the West Bank, the South African delegation asked for visa permits. The minister had no intention of meeting with any Israeli officials, Mashilo confirmed.
“Israel has no right to determine who the Palestinians associate with,” he told The Times of Israel. “We experienced apartheid in the past. We can’t let that happen again.” Restricting access to the Palestinian territories constitutes a violation of international law, which Pretoria was unwilling to accept, he added, threatening to “take action” if Israel upholds its policy.
Ties between Jerusalem and Pretoria have long been cool, and South Africa is one of the most hostile countries with which Israel has diplomatic ties. And yet, Lenk, Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, said that he and his team have been finding more “ways for interaction” than the public is aware of, citing visits to the country by senior Israeli officials. “There are lots of positives in the bilateral relationship,” he said, emphasizing that in 2014 Israeli imports to South Africa increased for the fifth consecutive year.

Apr 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Overview of the new immigration laws and regulations and their implications, by Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni

Published: 24 April 2015
On behalf of the Minister and Department of Home Affairs, I thank Parliament for including in the Information Session for Members, this overview of the new immigration laws and regulations, highlighting what has changed and implications thereof.
Honourable Members would know that the Immigration Amendment Acts, 2007 and 2011 and the Immigration Regulations, 2014, came into operation on 26 May 2014, and that the Immigration Regulations, 2014 repealed the Regulations made in 2005.
This was meant to better manage immigration in a way that balances South Africa’s openness to travellers as well as developmental and security imperatives.
In 2013-2014 financial year the country welcomed 13.5 million foreign nationals who came as visitors. Many South Africans are themselves travelling to various parts of the world. Our Department issues about 600, 000 passports annually to citizens who want to travel.
Since announcing the new regulations, we have said, consistently, we welcome constructive engagement from stakeholders.
Prior to the legislative amendments, there were gaps in legislation, thus the reliance on some form of ‘tick-box’ compliance as opposed to effective screening of applicants.
There was evidence of abuse of the Refugees Act, with over 90% of applicants only seeking economic opportunities.
Loopholes in legislation were making it possible for some to undermine immigration laws, thus preventing orderly migration, with a potential to fuel extortion, abuse and exploitation of migrants, especially of those with fraudulent or no documents at all.
Several cases were reported of girls, some as young as six, who were smuggled into South Africa, others in car boots, who ended up in the hands of syndicates, rapists and human traffickers.
We are mindful that many people from across the globe make a valuable contribution in the country, such as captains of industry, scientists, sporting personalities and academics, and thus the changes we see in our new visa regime.
The National Development Plan (NDP) also points clearly to the urgent need to attract international migrants with critical skills.
What has changed is that the Immigration Act (2002) and its Regulations have been amended to refer to all categories of “temporary” residence permits as “visas.” This is to distinguish clearly between short stay visas and permanent residence permits.
The only permits to remain are permanent residence permits, for a longer stay.
Also altered, with security imperatives uppermost, is that all new applications for visas will be made at our Missions, and in person. This will allow for the implementation of a risk-based approach to immigration management, including verification of applicants prior to arrival in the Republic.
A change of status or visa terms and conditions from within the Republic will not be permitted for persons on Visitor’s or Medical Treatment Visas. Persons who want to effect such changes will need to apply from outside the Republic, however, extensions are provided for in the legislation.
Also to be clarified is that the authorisation to work under a Visitor’s Visa, in terms of section 11(2) provides for people, in specific categories, to work, for a period of 3 months. But this is often abused with some expecting to stay in the country beyond the duration for this visa, instead of applying for an appropriate visa, such as a critical skills or other work visa.
Also related to this is the long term Multiple Entry Visa issued for a period exceeding 3 months and up to 3 years. This visitor’s visa is issued to frequent travellers coming to South Africa, for example, for business meetings. However, each entry may not exceed 90 days at a time. We have extended this initiative to the BRICS countries by the issuing of a visa to BRICS business executives for a period of 10 years.
For vast countries, we intend to provide more centers where people can apply for visas. Already we’ve opened 7 visa facilitation centres in India and 2 in China. Importantly, in its Annual Performance Plan (APP) for 2015/16, the Department plans to implement the capturing of Biometrics at ports of entry (including fingerprints and photos.)
From 1 June 2015, a person travelling with a child will be required to possess an unabridged birth certificate of the child, and written consent from the parent or parents authorising such travel, that is, if the child is travelling with somebody else or with only one parent.For countries abroad, we require any legal document issued by the relevant authority containing similar details (i.e. identity of child, father and mother) as you would have in an unabridged birth certificate.
The parent of a child who was registered with one parent in the National Population Register will not be required to provide consent from the other non-existent parent. The Department has developed Standard Operating Procedures approved at Ministerial level to standardize the implementation of the requirement for an unabridged birth certificate and related documents.
This requirement should assist in curbing the abduction and kidnapping of children, sometimes even by one of the parents, in addition to the issue of child trafficking.
Study Visas are now issued for the duration of studies rather than renewing such on a yearly basis, as this proved to be cumbersome. A student at a University or FET college will be allowed to conduct part-time work for a period not exceeding 20 hours per week. This is inherent in the Study Visa and students do not have to apply for authorization.
Business Visas are to be issued for businesses showing potential to advance national interest. In this regard, relevant Departments (including Trade & Industry and Labour) will assess first the feasibility of a prospective business venture, including compliance with labour laws and the benefit such would have for the SA economy.
At least 60% of the total staff compliment employed in the operations of a business will have to be SA citizens or permanent residents, for job creation and skills transfer. The NDP enjoins all of us to create jobs.
An investment amount for the business visa was also revised in consultation with the Minister of Trade and Industry – from R2.5m to R5m. This amendment caters for South Africans to participate in the economy by giving them an opportunity to open businesses as well.
After consultation with relevant departments and in view of the now enacted Employment Services Act, a decision was taken to repeal the quota and exceptional skills work permits and to introduce a category of Critical Skills Work Visa, to assist in attracting critical skills to the Republic.
A Critical Skills Work Visa may be issued even prior to employment. Also considered in the adjudication process is the applicant’s family, as a unit.The holder of a Critical Skills Work Visa may apply for permanent residence, without waiting for five years.
A critical skills list was prepared in consultation with business and other government Departments, including Higher Education, Economic Development and Trade & Industry. This list was published on 3 June 2014. It is not cast in stone, as we remain open to further recommendations.
Critical skills are those likely to advance national interest. Scarce skills are not in this category. Emphasis is on those skills lacking in the country, thus the distinction.
The Corporate Visa is project-based and issued therefore for a specific period, up to the completion of the project, after which holders of this visa are to leave the country. It is also subject to abuse with some attempting to stay beyond the prescribed periods.
However, where the corporate has not completed its project, for example, Medupi, the Department may issue a new Corporate Visa or amend the existing Corporate Visa to cover the duration of the project. Furthermore, consideration has been made (and awaits the Minister’s approval) to allow persons with critical skills who are employed under Corporate Visa to apply for a Critical Skills Work Visa within the Republic.
We have listened to the concerns from global companies that two years was inadequate for international assignments. As such, we have now increased the period of an Intra-Company Work Visa from two years to a maximum period of four years in order to serve its intended purpose.
In addition, we require the foreigner’s contract of employment with the company abroad to be valid for a period of no less than six months. Applicants who were issued with this visa for two years in line with the previous legislation will be able to extend their visa for a further period of two years whilst in the Republic.
However, the Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa cannot be used by a representative of a business abroad to come to South Africa to open a new business, as the legislation requires that the business must exist in South Africa, as a branch, subsidiary or affiliate. Such company representative(s) must apply for a section 11(2) visa to come and establish a business.
Instead of paying a repatriation deposit upon application for a visa, employers are now required to ensure, and make guarantees, that their foreign employees will comply with the terms and conditions of their visas and leave the Republic upon termination of the contract or employment or expiry of the visa. Costs of deportation may be demanded based on guarantees.
Changes to the General Work Visa allow foreigners to compete in the open labour market. In this regard, the employing company has to showand motivate why a South African citizen or permanent resident could not fill the position and demonstrate efforts made to obtain the services of a citizen or permanent resident.
A Transit Visa will in the case of air transit, be issued for a period not exceeding 24 hours; andin the case of land transit, for a period not exceeding 48 hours, to assistin identifying persons travelling through the Republic. This is required only in countries with which we share borders (namely, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho), and only applicable to visitors to those countries. Nationals of these countries together with those in possession of long term visas (work, business, study) and permanent residence permits are not required to apply for Transit Visas.
One of those areas where we have been grossly misunderstood is the Visa Waiver/Exemption. It applies to visitors for holiday purposes, and may not be used for other purposes requiring specific visas, like for study, work or business purposes. Therefore, any person not coming for holiday purposes must be authorized (by the Mission) in terms of section 11(2) to conduct work, study or business whilst on holiday.
Any person who overstays the duration of a visa or permit will now be listed as an undesirable person and may be prevented from returning to the Republic for a prescribed period. Such persons no longer have the option to pay a fine, as this did not serve as an effective deterrent in the past.
The legislative amendments and regulations I have alluded to were critical to beef-up national security and ensure economic interests were met and international obligations fulfilled while we review our entire approach to migration. The Department is developing a new International Migration White Paper, to overhaul the 1999 policy framework, replacing it with a new framework.
The new policy framework will bring certainty also on:
• How to manage economic migration in South Africa
• How to address the regulation of shops owned by foreign nationals, and
• How to ensure foreign nationals whose visas entitle them to work are employed in accordance with provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
On a related matter, in partnership with other state agencies, we aremaking inroads in establishing the Border Management Agency which will guard and protect our country’s land, sea and air borders. It will help greatly to enhance border management.
We are committed to building a professional, modern, world class department capable fully to provide secured, integrated and efficient identity and immigration systems.
It’s with this understanding we’re undertaking an immigration paradigm shift, the end of which should yield improved security, better prospects for meeting our socio-economic goals and fulfilling our international obligation to uphold human rights for all of humanity.
Indeed it would be a very sad day if any of us would wake up one day oblivious of the fact that this very country was built of the blood and sweat of the friendly people of this continent and selfless sacrifices of our international friends abroad.
Let’s celebrate, next month, Africa Day in peace and friendship with all our neighbours.
Once more, thank you deeply for this opportunity.

Apr 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

China’s ‘birth tourism’ craze

Sunday Times – By Tao Duanfang, 2015-04-16
Chinese couples are paying a fortune to give birth in North America in order to ensure their children receive U.S. or Canadian citizenship. But the local authorities are not pleased.
Swarms of federal homeland security agents from California’s Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties recently raided 37 maternity care centers, known in Chinese as “month-sitting centers.” The establishments in question recruit and serve Chinese clients trying to find a way for their babies to be born in North America so they can obtain citizenship.
To understand why these operations are being targeted, some background is in order. Although these centers claim to serve locals, their true target clients are couples from China, where it is believed that women should be confined to the house for a month of rest and recuperation after a delivery.
But of course the reason why so many Chinese people and other Asian parents-to-be are there in the first place, sparing no expense to travel to the United States or Canada for delivery, is what’s come to be known as “birth tourism.”
Advertisements by agencies running such services are quite explicit: For 200,000 RMB [$32,000], I’ll fulfill your American or Canadian dream.
Many Chinese parents want their children to be born in North American because the United States and Canada both link citizenship to place of birth, and are seen as having excellent social benefits and education opportunities. After 2007, when Canada raised its immigration threshold and Chinese people no longer had any real hope to enter as skilled migrants, the so-called “maternity industry” suddenly boomed.
Such an industry turns out to be largely built on lies, essentially composed of three layers. There are the people who provide lodging, usually in an ordinary apartment complex or somebody’s home. Above them are the birth operators who receive the pregnant women and arrange all the delivery services and postpartum care.
The starting point, however, are the intermediary agencies that advertise and attract clients who want their children to have American or Canadian passports. These same businesses usually also run services for assistance in immigration and studying abroad.
In the United States, running a maternity center is not illegal per se. Neither is applying for a visa with the goal of giving birth in America illegal, although the immigration office would probably refuse the visa request if the motivation was known.
This is why the recruiting agencies usually coach clients to enter North America by making statements in bad faith. Meanwhile, to ensure that they obtain full payment from these parents, the birth operators force the clients to lie about their true financial situations so that they can be billed at a reduced fee as uninsured or low-income parents. U.S. federal law enforcement agencies are now going after the industry, investigating these operators on charges of tax and benefits fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy.
The issue is even more complicated in Canada. As one British Columbia alderman points out, the maternity tourism chain is composed of three services that all require licenses and come under different government supervision — home-hotel, postpartum care and baby care. That puts them in a sort of “limbo,” and it’s a big headache for the relevant agencies.
Hong Kong example
The first report that people were cashing in on these maternity tourism operations was in 2003. But the business had already existed for many years. Before Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, this industry had already become very profitable thanks to those who were tired of the time-consuming legal formalities of immigration. In recent years, thanks to China’s growing affluent class and the rising immigration threshold, the business has evolved to cater mainly to the Chinese people from the mainland.
But these parents often neglect to consider the disadvantages of this strategy. For instance, many clients don’t understand that the United States isn’t a complete welfare state. Nor do they know that as “nonresident” Canadians, they aren’t entitled to any social benefits and can’t legally rent out housing they have acquired.
They also underestimate the huge mental and physical cost and the cumbersome inconveniences involved in staying in the country with a baby until they reach legal age. The same goes for parents who return to live in China until the child can legally exercise the right to choose nationality at 18 or 21. In the latter case, because the child is considered a foreigner in China, he or she must obtain a visa or travel document to enter China. Those papers are usually valid for six months to a year. Going back and forth between two countries becomes very costly; and as foreigners, these children are refused enrollment in local schools and lose their Chinese social security benefits.
Still, the reality is that maternity tourism is driven by demand. And for now, enough wealthy Chinese people are convinced that the North American dream for their child begins at birth.

Apr 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Europe frozen by an inability to confront migration

by Gideon Rachman, – Business Day – 22 April 2015
WHEN 12 people were murdered by terrorists in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris earlier this year, more than 2-million came out onto the streets of France to demonstrate in sympathy and protest. It seems unlikely there will be a similar outpouring of public emotion in response to the deaths of hundreds of would-be migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean at the weekend as they attempted to cross to Europe.
However, the scale of the tragedy and the emergence of the human stories behind the numbers may finally force European politicians to confront a problem they have preferred to ignore. European Union foreign ministers discussed the issue in Brussels on Monday and acceded to Italian calls for an emergency summit of EU leaders. Still, action may prove elusive.
That is because the three potential choices they face remain unattractive, making politicians reluctant to take ownership of the problem.
The natural human reaction is that these tragedies are intolerable and must be stopped.
The first option, therefore, is to step up patrols and pick up more migrants. The Italian decision, under pressure from the EU, to scale back naval rescue operations, has led to more deaths on the high seas; there will clearly be pressure to reverse it. However, I am not convinced the EU will take that decision.
The humanitarian argument made by the Catholic Church and others is that it is Europe’s moral duty to protect the vulnerable, and that a rich continent can easily absorb those attempting to cross the sea. Last year, for example, about 219,000 refugees made the sea crossing — set against a total EU population of 500-million.
Until now, EU leaders have feared stepped-up patrols will lead to an increase in the numbers of people willing to risk the crossing. They are also aware that immigration, legal and illegal, has fed the rise of populist anti-immigration parties across Europe.
Sweden, in line with its liberal tradition, has taken a particularly large number of migrants. Partly as a result, an anti-immigration party with neo-Nazi roots, the Sweden Democrats, won almost 13% of the vote in the last Swedish general election.
The anti-immigration National Front topped the polls in France’s elections to the European Parliament last year.
The British government is in the midst of an election and is running scared of the UK Independence Party, which campaigns against migration. This month, Germany has seen arson attacks on hostels for asylum seekers. Similar problems and populist parties are popping up all over Europe.
Nor is this an entirely European reaction. In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised to “stop the boats” of illegal migrants attempting to cross into his country.
The past week has also brought condemnation in SA of deadly attacks made on some of the millions of illegal migrants from elsewhere in Africa.
Successive US administrations, including Barack Obama’s, have had to promise to step up border security with Mexico.
There are examples of more generous policies. Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have taken hundreds of thousands of refugees from the war in Syria. But only a trickle of those have been allowed to move on to Europe.
The second option is burden-sharing within Europe, where different countries have reacted with different levels of generosity to the flow of desperate migrants from Syria, in particular. The Germans and Swedes have taken thousands; the British, just a few hundred (through formal programmes, at least).
There will now be calls for greater burden-sharing and a more equitable distribution of refugees across the EU, with all 28 nations taking their share. However, even agreement on this is no certainty. Since politicians do not know the numbers of potential refugees involved, they cannot know what agreeing to take a “fair share” might ultimately involve.
Free movement of people within the EU means that, even if refugees are settled in Bulgaria or Poland, there is nothing to stop them getting on the bus to Germany or France. Entry into the UK, which has its own border controls, is more problematic.
But the thousands of would-be migrants gathered in the French seaports suggest many are willing to attempt one last sea crossing.
The third option is to focus on Libya, where the collapse of governance that followed the Nato-sponsored overthrow of the Gaddafi regime has created a perfect base for people traffickers.
The Italian government has talked of a possible military intervention there — perhaps to control the ports and disrupt trafficking networks.
Yet the recent histories of Western interventions in the Middle East make governments extremely reluctant to contemplate this option.
Libya has become a base not just for people traffickers, but also for brutal jihadis. If western troops landed in Libya to try to stabilise the situation, some would probably be killed or taken hostage.
There is also a realisation that Libya is merely the end point of the problem. Most of the refugees crossing the Mediterranean have come from further afield — places such as Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and south Asia, as well as war-torn countries such as Syria or Yemen. Closing the Libyan route could be effective for a while. But ultimately it might only displace the problem elsewhere.
© The Financial Times Limited 2015

Apr 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

For Africa to thrive, total investment in its people is critical

by Elsie Kanza, April 23 2015, Business Day Live
THE negative connotations usually generated by the word migration never cease to amaze me. In the past week, Africans have suffered in tragedies at opposite ends of the continent; in the streets of SA and in the seas of the Mediterranean.
That these are horrifying and terrible hardly needs repeating. That they could be prevented by a complete re-think of how we address their underlying causes and the mindset we adopt when we consider the issue of migration, I believe, does.
First, some facts. Africa is not alone in going through an unprecedented demographic shock. With a population already larger than 1-billion people and growing strongly, by 2040 it will have a workforce larger than China’s. This surge is causing massive challenges in the form of unemployment and social stability, which are showing no signs of letting up, unlike in other countries in Asia and elsewhere that have followed similar growth patterns.
That this huge spike in population is happening at the same time as a similarly unprecedented expansion of urban populations only makes the pressure facing leaders to find gainful, rewarding employment for people more intensive. When you consider that up to 60% of Africa’s youth are unemployed according to the International Labour Organisation, you can get a sense of the size of the challenge.
Here is one further fact to consider: Africa’s economic development, fragile and exciting in equal measure, will increasingly depend on how well it is able to exploit its greatest natural asset. I’m not referring to diamonds, gold or oil, but rather, Africa’s people.
I am by nature, but also by data, an Afro-optimist and I believe the 21st century holds great promise for our region and our people. Our young, vibrant workforce will drive a dynamic consumer industries sector, creating middle-class jobs and opportunities for social mobility.
This will be helped along by government balance sheets that are, on the whole, in better shape than most of Western Europe’s and political environments more stable – despite the best efforts of extremists – than at any point in recent history.
These are the factors that have contributed to African countries making up six of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world this year and enable us to look forward to better times ahead. It is momentum that has been hard won but could be easily lost.
The fact that sub-Saharan Africa’s share of world trade is still only about 3% of total volumes is far too small, but arguably worse still is the fact that just 12% of our trade is within Africa itself. Compare that to Europe and Asia, where the figure is 60% and 40% respectively, and you can see the scale of the handicap that we have given ourselves in clawing up the economic ladder.
So, let us consider the following for a manifesto for Africa: let us educate and train our people so that they have the skills necessary to become an asset, not a burden, when they travel in our region. Let us have the roads, rail and air links (and visa regimes) that our people deserve so they can generate the wealth and jobs we so badly need.
Let us have labour laws fit for the 21st century, that ensure living wages and allow our businesses to compete with other emerging markets. Let us allow our greatest natural assets to move within the continent as we allow our natural resources to exit it, where human rights and our shared culture are respected and businesses can invest abroad, knowing that success depends on their acumen, not their nationality.
Nobody said this would be easy. But I believe Africa’s 2,000 languages and 3,000 ethnicities should be seen as a source not only of great pride but also great potential. Think of what we could achieve if we worked together.