Mar 23, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

South Africa: Home Affairs Consulted Labour On New Office Hours

SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)
20 March 2015
Pretoria — The Department of Home Affairs says it has continuously consulted with labour representatives regarding the imminent implementation of the new operating hours of its offices.
This follows media reports which claim there were no proper consultations with labour representatives in the implementation of the new Home Affairs opening and closing hours.
Earlier this month, the department introduced new office hours to improve services to the public.
Office hours will be from 7.30am to 4.30pm, including a 30-minute lunch break. However, opening and closing hours for serving clients will be from 8am to 4pm.
The new opening and closing hours for the public will be operational from Monday, 23 March 2015.
Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said throughout the whole process, continuous consultations with labour unions took place with a view to attaining their buy-in, while ensuring that the best interests of the employees are taken into consideration.
“As a department, we have made it clear that this new intervention will be critically beneficial to the members of the public. Though there might be differences of opinion on certain matters pertaining to the new arrangement with representatives of labour, we have agreed that we will proceed to operationalize the new hours with effect from Monday, 23 March 2015,” said Apleni on Friday.
The Director-General reiterated the department’s commitment towards the operationalization of the new opening and closing hours and warned against deliberate disruptions from officials.
“Any official who attempts to deliberately disrupt the new arrangement will be dealt with according to the department’s disciplinary processes,” said Apleni. – SAnews.gov.za

Mar 20, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Conservatives to break immigration pledge for second time

By Adam Bienkov – politics.co.uk – Wednesday, 18 March 2015 –
The Conservatives will fail to meet their pledge of dramatically reducing immigration in the next parliament, the government’s own spending watchdog said today.

Immigration to the UK rose to almost 300,000 in the year to September 2014, higher than the level seen at the end of the last government.

However, the home secretary insisted earlier this month that the Tories would stick to their previous pledge of reducing migration to the “tens of thousands”.

“I think we will keep the target, Theresa May told the Times.
“It is important because it is about not just dealing with those coming into the system but also about making sure that those people who shouldn’t live here actually leave. You will have to wait for the manifesto to see the exact words.”
However, the Office for Budget Responsibility today suggested the target was no longer realistic, given the steep increase in numbers over the past year.
“Our previous forecasts have been underpinned by the assumption in the ONS low migration population projections that net migration will move towards 105,000 a year by mid-2019,” it found.

“A reduction over time seems consistent with the international environment and with the government’s declared efforts to reduce it. But in light of recent evidence, it no longer seems central to assume it will decline so steeply”

The OBR believes that immigration will now “tend towards 165,000 [a year] in the long term.”

A significant rise in immigration last year was one of the main factors behind better than expected growth figures. According to the OBR: “We have revised [growth] up slightly to reflect the stronger population and employment growth associated with higher rates of net inward migration.”

The findings follow pressure from senior figures within the Conservative party to drop their commitment to dramatically reduce immigration. May is believed to have vetoed any attempts to drop the pledge in the upcoming manifesto.

Mar 20, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA made “millions” from Zim documentation project

by TINTSWALO BALOYI – Thursday, March 19, 2015
PRETORIA, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa could have generated more than R200 million from a project initiated late last year to document Zimbabwean national in the country.
About 250 000 Zimbabweans applied for the Home Affairs’ work permit under the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP).
Applicants paid R870 each.
Calculations by CAJ News revealed that a total of R217,5 million was generated from the estimated 250,000 ZSP exercise.
Zimbabwean human rights activist, Runesu Muchemwa, corroborated the calculations.
“”I believe Home Affairs generated lots of millions out of this work permit project,” said Muchemwa in Pretoria.
Home Affairs spokesman, Mayihlome Tshwete, could not immediately respond to emails and text messages.
“Sorry, I’m in a meeting, please SMS me,” he texted.
In another text message, Tshwete promised to phone CAJ News back before 2:00pm, but he again failed to do so.
Tshwete could not respond despite earlier pledges.
Home Affairs Department contracted Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) to capture data for the Zimbabweans seeking to renew their work permits in South Africa.
The ZSP application process closed on December 31. The old Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP) permits expired on the same day.
The processing of permits is expected to be finalised by the end of August.
– CAJ News

Mar 20, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

South Africa: Minister Gigaba Satisfied With Zim Permit

SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)
17 March 2015
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says he is satisfied with the manner in which the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) process is unfolding.
“We are quite satisfied with the manner in which the process has been going thus far and want to emphasise once more the importance of us to try to the best extent possible to regularise the stay of foreign nationals in the country to know who they are, where they live and what do they do for the better purposes of national planning,” said the Minister on Tuesday.
The Minister paid a visit to the ZSP centre in Midrand.
Giving an update on the ZSP, Minister Gigaba said the Zimbabwean application process closed officially on 31 December 2014, the day that also marked the expiry of the old Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project, including permits whose expiry dates were beyond 31 December 2014.
“Regarding the breakdown of applications, we wish to announce that as of 13 March 2015, 208 967 applications were submitted online to VFS Global,” said Minister Gigaba.
This is after the Department of Home Affairs had announced the introduction of this new special permit on 12 August 2014 for DZP permit-holders, who wished to remain in South Africa after the expiry of their old permits.
The Department introduced the new Zimbabwean special permit to document Zimbabwean nationals whose stay in South Africa was normalized through the permits issued, from 2010, in terms of the old Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP).
The department has engaged VFS Global, as a partner, to receive the applications. VFS Global started receiving applications online on 1 October 2014.
Minister Gigaba said 206 939 applicants booked appointments with VFS for interviews, while 2 028 applicants have not booked appointments with VFS.
Those who have not booked their appointments have until 31 March 2015 to do so, which is the closing date. Minister Gigaba said this deadline will not be extended.
Fifty percent of 162 256 applications that have been done at VFS have been adjudicated by Home Affairs. “We have adjudicated 83 009 applications to be exact,” said Minister Gigaba.
The Minister said it is anticipated that the adjudication and handing out of outcomes will be finalised by the end of August 2015.
The ZSP will allow permit-holders to live, work, conduct business, study and financially transact in South Africa for the duration of the permit, which will be valid until 31 December 2017.
Minister Gigaba also handed out several permits to Zimbabweans who had completed their processes.

Mar 19, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

An attack on a foreign migrant is an attack on us all

Published 02 Mar 2015 – Polity.org.za
While the extent of xenophobic attacks may not be widely known, the broad facts are relatively clear. For some time foreign-born Africans, and to some extent Asians, have been subjected to various forms of repression in democratic South Africa.
This xenophobic experience takes various forms. It may be harassment and abuse and demands for bribes when entering the country, or it may be the need to pay bribes to police to continue trading even when they are operating within the law. Alternatively bribes may be needed to enjoy a degree of immunity when trading illegally. It may entail the need to offer something in exchange for one or other necessity of life, for example sex with a landlord for a flat or some other form of shelter. There is also the vulnerability of foreigners as workers, especially when they do not have papers, making illegally low wages possible as well as dismissals without severance pay.
The physical repression is accompanied by a racist discourse which constantly links being from another part of Africa with criminality, as when police claim to have carried out a series of important arrests involving alleged illegal immigrants, who are often mentioned in the same breath as mandrax dealers.
There is official discourse and there is also prejudice amongst the general population, manifested not only against foreigners but also sometimes against sections of the South African population who are treated as inferior or as a dangerous ‘Other’.
There are different levels of insecurity experienced by foreign migrants in South Africa. Those who are ‘undocumented’ migrants, without the papers entitling them to remain in South Africa, are nevertheless often able to forge a relationship with authorities enabling them to stay. Their residence is, however, suffused with constant insecurity. It may be subject to the kinds of payments or demands for sex listed above, or to periodic violence and the constant fear of the right to remain suddenly being revoked.
But it is not only undocumented migrants who experience harassment and deportation. Even those who are legally entitled to be in South Africa cannot feel secure. They may be pulled out of taxis simply because they are not South Africans.
Police may simply tear up their documents, rendering them liable for deportation, a pattern of conduct that has become systemic in the treatment of foreign Africans. Home Affairs officials are reported to treat asylum applicants in a demeaning manner, for example flinging their papers on the ground for them to pick up when they return them
The attacks on migrants as they struggle to set up businesses, sometimes by pooling their resources, is not something that flared up only in 2008 and again in 2014/2015, or only in the big cities. It is an ongoing, below-the-radar phenomenon in all the provinces of South Africa, in urban and rural areas. In many relatively remote areas Somali and other foreign migrants who have set up small shops periodically find them torched, their goods looted and their lives threatened, and sometimes they are even driven out of the area concerned.
There are many significant features in these xenophobic attacks, which we are told is not xenophobia but isolated criminal incidents, even though they have a specific character in that South Africans are not generally the targets.
Some meanings of the word xenophobia relate it to a hatred of foreigners, something psychological that erupts like a phobia. But those who are targeted are in the main foreign people who often live peacefully and amicably in South African communities, in some cases speaking the language of the communities with whom they stay. As merchants, many of them – especially, it seems, Somalians – are servicing communities with greater concern for their needs than local business people do or are able to do. Foreign shopowners work longer hours than South African spaza shopowners, and they often form informal buying cooperatives so that they are able to sell goods cheaper.
These are people who have come from strife-torn areas in search of peace, and they have a powerful need to survive and thrive, and to support their families here as well as send money back home.
The attacks on these communities are not spontaneous. It is remarkable how often the names of instigators are identified in newspapers, yet there are no reports of repercussions. It is notable that the attacks have been preceded by meetings of South African shopkeepers demanding that the foreigners close their shops and leave, which is completely illegal behaviour in itself. This has often been followed by supposedly spontaneous attacks, following real or alleged shootings by foreign shopkeepers. But it was remarked of the lootings in Bramfischerville last week, supposedly provoked by the killing of a local by a Somalian shopkeeper, that those who responded with ‘spontaneous anger’ were ready, when they set off from Snake Park, with previously prepared petrol bombs. The looting that followed may have been unplanned, but not the torching.
We know that one Somalian shopkeeper is out on bail for alleged murder, but what of the attackers? How many have been charged and convicted in the 21 years of democracy? Has there been a single conviction? The police have always played an ambiguous role. Sometimes they have stood by while shops have been looted or foreign Africans attacked; sometimes they have themselves participated in the looting or helped others to loot; sometimes they have arrested looters or tried to curb the use of violence and played some role in securing the safe departure of the shopkeepers from the areas concerned.
The government is ambivalent. It will not use the word xenophobia and one asks why not, when it is necessary to name a phenomenon for what it is. In some cases serving cabinet ministers have attacked foreign shopowners, and the Minister for Small Business Development has implicitly set the sharing of business knowledge with local business people as a condition for foreign migrants practising their trade in peace.
Interestingly, it is reported that some Somalian business people in the Western Cape are assisting local business people, perhaps indicating their desire to be part of communities where they settle. But to treat this as – or even imply that it is – a condition for their right to live and practise their trade in peace is in violation of the human rights to which they are entitled.
When we focus on the hazards of life in South Africa for a person of foreign origin, we may lose sight of something wider. Certainly there are some rights in South African law and the constitution that are available only to South African citizens, but the protections of life and liberty and the pursuit of business activities, amongst others, are rights belonging to all inhabitants.
The resistance to apartheid was a struggle for human dignity, an aspiration to be treated without violation of one’s bodily integrity through violent assaults, and to pursue a range of activities that apartheid prevented. These are rights listed in most human rights documents, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 as universal rights, applicable to all human beings everywhere.
When we struggled for freedom in South Africa it was in the first place a struggle to free the inhabitants of this country. That is why we have documents like the Freedom Charter and our constitution, which are both indigenous and universal, that is, addressing specific rights and grievances that derive from the South African reality under apartheid yet also speaking to what is owed to all human beings. When we won freedom from apartheid it was not just for us but freedom for all to walk our streets and lanes in liberty and without fear, with due respect for their dignity and peaceful existence.
When foreign Africans and Asians are driven out of townships it is a negation of the freedom for which many gave their lives or were maimed, and a negation of the notion that freedom is indivisible.
Ironically, there are foreigners who live with complete freedom in South Africa, foreign business executives who are CEOs of top companies. They have no fear. They come and go without being accosted by police or barred by landlords. And that is how it should be.
It is the most vulnerable, and often the poorest of the poor, who are under attack. The shame is that this attack comes from a government pledged to freedom, a governing party whose leaders included Chief Albert Luthuli – who was born in former Rhodesia – and a government deriving from an organisation that was sheltered in many of the countries whose nationals are now under attack.
These attacks represent victimisation but they are also an attack on the freedom that belongs to all of us. These hard-won rights need the defence of all who cherish liberty.
Professor Raymond Suttner, attached to Rhodes University and UNISA spent over eleven years as a political prisoner or under house arrest. His book Recovering Democracy in South Africa has just been published by Jacana Media.

Mar 19, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

The Spaza Spirit

March 17, 2015 – World Policy.ORG

By Faith Kiarie
In May 2008, xenophobic attacks against foreign African nationals living in South Africa left tens of thousands displaced and numerous businesses and homes destroyed. A new wave of similar attacks erupted again earlier this year in the township of Soweto and quickly spread to other parts of the country. Such attacks have been ongoing since they first began seven years ago, albeit in smaller scales. In a country where the economic circumstances of many victims of the apartheid regime remain unchanged, it is understandable that the relative success of foreign African entrepreneurs irks local residents.
According to the United Nations Regional Information Centre’s 2013 Global Trends report, nearly one fifth of the world’s 1.2 million asylum seekers are hosted in South Africa. In addition to this, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, South Africa is home to some 65,000 recognized refugees and a large number of illegal immigrants, as well as immigrants holding other types of permits. Since very few African foreign nationals are absorbed into the formal sector of what is the continent’s second largest economy, their survival and success in a land where they have limited resources is notable.
The Somali community is a prime example of the success of hardworking foreign African entrepreneurs in South Africa. Researchers from the Sustainable Livelihood Foundation found that Somali entrepreneurs have engineered the changing landscape of the spaza business in the Delft Area in Cape Town. These unofficial stores, usually at private residences in townships, sell every-day household goods, such as bread and cigarettes. And Somali-owned spazas can now be found all over the country.
However, such foreign African entrepreneurs have long been accused of engaging in questionable practices to gain an upper hand over local competitors. And with increasing interest in their businesses from the media, there have been calls for them to share their ”trade secrets” with local business owners.
Depsite these claims, recent research suggests that there’s nothing peculiar about their recipe for success, it is simply the result of hard work and the application of business practices similar to those of formal retailers. Somali entrepreneurs have been found to provide mutual support in helping to get businesses off the ground, joining together to help one another create and capitalize on new enterprises.
With most of the products that they supply having low mark ups and thus requiring high volume, a low-cost strategy needs to be implemented if profits are to be realized. As a result, Somali entrepreneurs often invest in groups, purchase inventory together to take advantage of bulk rates, and run their shops themselves to curb labor costs. Their shops are also typically open for longer hours and are known to build customer loyalty through their willingness to extend credit.
Many South African families, who have survived off spaza businesses for decades, have resisted the entry of foreigners into this industry as they believe that they are being starved of business. Other community members feel that many spaza shops are exclusively run by foreigners and do not employ enough South Africans. Even members of government, such as Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu, have suggested that Somali entrepreneurs divulge their business techniques to local business owners.
With relative youth unemployment rates and poverty across the continent, immigration will not likely slow down. As a result, as foreign entrepreneurs are beating the odds each day, their efforts ought to be encouraged and celebrated. And despite the recent romanticization of the rise of Africa, higher consumption rates are not going to make African individuals more prosperous.
The consumer mentality has to give way to producer mentality. For that to happen, a number of things ought to take place. Specifically, the attitudes towards entrepreneurs have to change. Entrepreneurship is often seen as a last resort to earn income after efforts to be formally employed by large firms or by the government fail. Moreover, according to a First National Bank report, there is an overemphasis on access to capital and an under emphasis on skills and aptitude.
Somalis are just one of many foreign African immigrant groups in South Africa who are succeeding in business. There is also a visible dominance of Ghanaian and Congolese hairdressers. Well-educated Zimbabweans are also making their presence known in various industries, notably the hospitality business. Many of these African nationals are neither educated nor wealthy. They simply have good networks beyond family and close friends, as well as a determination to solve everyday problems in simpler and cheaper ways.
All in all, these entrepreneur businesses contribute positively to the South African economy. The suppliers, landlords, and even some employees of these businesses are all locals. The anger and hatred towards them has little do with their success. Rather, such anger is caused by the fact that, after two decades of a democratic South African government, the socioeconomic issues that existed in the apartheid era have yet to be fully addressed.
Local frustration will only be relieved by a serious commitment from both the public and private sectors to work with communities to revitalize township economies. In doing so, such efforts will likely result in increased production and employment rates in townships. Since immigrants are thought to be more entrepreneurial than locals, the sensible action for government and other supportive bodies is to protect and encourage entrepreneurial business. Creating an environment that makes self-employment a more attractive option for hopeful entrepreneurs will not only lead to a stronger economy but will also alleviate resentment toward foreign Africans.

Mar 19, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Buthelezi: I am different from Mugabe

17/03/2015 00:00:00

by IOL/Staff reporter

INKATHA Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has described as “nonsense and poppycock” suggestions that he may be a dictator having been at the helm of the IFP for longer than President Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe.
The former South African home affairs minister made the comments in Durban on Monday during a press briefing about preparations for his party’s 40th anniversary celebrations.
Asked how he felt, having ruled the IFP since its inception in 1975–longer than Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980–Buthelezi said the question was “nonsense and poppycock”.
“I am not in power like Robert Mugabe. The fact that I led my party for that period of time cannot be compared with Mugabe. I am a servant of the IFP.”
Buthelezi also revealed that his long-suffering, elderly wife, Irene, has turned to a lapdog for companionship because her husband is so busy criss-crossing the country pursuing political objectives.
Eighty-six-year-old Buthelezi has been married to Irene for 63 years and they have had eight children who have all died. He said it saddened him this week to realise how much time he and his disabled wife had lost out on because of politics.
Buthelezi said it was a sad moment when he arrived at his Mahlabathini home in Ulundi on Sunday night to find his wife alone in the company of her dog.
“She was just sitting there with her dog. That made me very sad. I should have been there with her at my age,” said Buthelezi.
He said although he once owned a dog, he was not particularly fond of the animals.
Buthelezi was explaining that he had not personally benefited from his long stay as party leader, but he was just there to serve the party and the people of South Africa.
He said in 2012 he made a request to retire from the leadership position, but the party members instead amended the party’s constitution so he could stay on.
“In December 2012 I wanted to retire. I do want to retire. Every day I wish the party was in such a position that the leadership transition could happen,” he said.
However, Buthelezi said the fact that the party had lost its position as the main opposition in KwaZulu-Natal to the DA proved that the party was not ready to survive without him at the helm.
He said he had warned party members that they should conduct branch auditing to prepare for elections. He had repeatedly warned about bogus branches, but his call had been ignored.
He said the party was supposed to meet at the beginning of the year to talk about his retirement, but the meeting was repeatedly postponed.
“I don’t see why people think I am clinging to power because there is nothing for Mangosuthu Buthelezi. There is nothing I can do more that I haven’t already done for this country.”
Buthelezi said he had done nothing wrong during his years of leadership, except “forgiving people who had betrayed him and the party”.
“My conscience is clear – even if I was asked to re-walk the journey I have travelled, I would do the same again.”
He said his children and grandchildren did not have anything to inherit from him because he had gained nothing from working for the IFP other than being accommodated at hotels and being driven in the party’s vehicle when he was carrying out party duties.
“I have no farm, I have no riches, I have nothing, because I have not taken advantage, either as chief minister of KwaZulu or as a minister of state in home affairs.”
He said during a series of celebrations, the party would speak about its past. Events would include the official opening of Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Museum and the Documentation Centre in Ulundi.