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DA letter: Part 2 of Hellen Zille’s discussion of the effects of the new immigration legislation

DA letter: Part 2 of Hellen Zille’s discussion of the effects of the new immigration legislation

DA LETTER

On Monday we published part one of three instalments of a letter authored by DA leader and Western Cape Premier Hellen Zille.

In the first instalment of the letter Ms Zille wrote, “Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will tell you the regulations are there to protect us. He'll also say they're no worse than the hoops we South Africans have to jump through when traveling to many other destinations.”

She added that the new regulations stand to kill the goose that laid the country’s golden eggs - tourism and foreign investment.

In the next part of the letter she questions the South African Department of Home Affairs’ ability to handle the additional and complex administrative requirements saying that the biggest concern is in fact not on South African soil but at our foreign missions abroad where the visas are processed.

Zille also points out the effect the visa regulations are having on families who have been separated and possible job-losses for those employed in by immigration practitioners.

She continues to say in her letter;

“Consider a country the size of China, where we spend a huge amount of time and money marketing ourselves as a tourist and business destination. There, would-be tourists and investors only have the options of Shanghai or Beijing to apply for visas and have their details captured. 

“It's clear why this system is disastrous for our prospects of increasing Chinese tourism. Reports already indicate that Chinese operators have stopped promoting South Africa and are sending their clients elsewhere in Africa. We should be making it easier - the countries competing with us for tourist dollars certainly are - and yet we make it harder.

“Here's another fact,” wrote Zille, “according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), in- and outbound travel in South Africa was worth R24 billion last year. A quarter of this came from people travelling with children. And now we want to make life more difficult for these travellers through regulations that far exceed global standards. No one denies that child trafficking needs to be stopped, but making it near impossible to travel here with children cannot be the solution.”

The Premier then talks about the impact the laws have had on families being torn apart and being declared ‘undesirables’ for overstaying their visas.  The new law she said had caused trauma to families where mothers and fathers had been denied access to a country they had been living in for as much as ten years and even a five year old girl was labelled ‘undesirable’ under the new immigration act.

‘These are people who are waiting for Home Affairs to process their applications and are now turned into criminals by this clumsy and ill-conceived legislation,” said Zille in her letter.

Ms Zille then raises her concern over the Department of Home Affairs’ employment of VFS Global and the effect this will have on South African immigration practitioners and those they employ.

“Before we even consider tourism and investment numbers, these regulations have an even more immediate and direct impact on jobs. Home Affairs has now outsourced the processing of visa applications to UK-based company, VSF Global, which could have dire consequences for many local immigration practitioners.

“It is estimated that there are currently between 400 and 500 immigration practitioners in South Africa, and that each of them employs, on average, 6 to 8 people including couriers and messengers. That's thousands of jobs we can ill afford to lose.

“Government will argue that they need the biometric system to operate from one place, but there is no reason why this could not be replicated across the existing practitioners. In fact, government should have doubled the number of local companies, thereby doubling the jobs and the efficiency of the service.

“The fact is immigration is a complex issue wherever you go in the world.”

Read the final instalment of this thought provoking letter on Friday.

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