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Part 3 final: DA letter about South Africa Department of Home Affairs’ new immigration act.

Part 3 final: DA letter about South Africa Department of Home Affairs’ new immigration act.


By Estelle Vosloo

For the past week New World Immigration has been focussing on a letter written by Democratic Alliance leader and Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille regarding the events surrounding the new immigration laws.

Premier Zille spoke in the first two parts of her open letter about the fact that the new immigration law has seen a meaningful impact on not only South African tourism and the country’s ability to attract foreign investors in the future.
She also wrote about the effects the law has been having on the South African society, something Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has taken to calling ‘unintended consequences’ in other media reports.

The ‘unintended consequences’ have included the declaration of some people being declared ‘undesirables’ and included spouses of South Africans who have been living in the country for several years and even a young girl of 5-years-old. The victims of this law have been criminalized and in a case to the Western Cape High Court the undesirable status have been temporarily overturned.

Ms Zille said that the act was ill-conceived and prematurely implemented.
She also went on to question the fact that the UK-based company VFS Global had been employed to process administration surrounding visa applications putting a direct threat on the livelihood of South African immigration practices resulting in eventual job losses.

Helen Zille continues in the final instalment of the letter;
“In an ideal universe, we would enjoy an "Open, Opportunity World for All" - a world in which everyone is free to move around as they choose with no restrictions. But our world doesn't work that way. It is still based on the concept of the nation state, of which there are about 196 today.

“International law respects national sovereignty (comprising territory, population, authority and recognition). Countries are governed by profoundly differing ideologies, policies, tax collection and budgetary allocation systems, as well as accountability mechanisms. People's birthplace and citizenship shape their destiny in countless ways, and it is understandable that many are desperate to escape the countries of their birth.

Referring to migrants and asylum seekers, from neighbouring countries, depending on their South African jobs to earn a livelihood, Zille wrote,“Like all decent and compassionate people, we accept our "responsibility to protect" people whose lives are at risk. And we know that mechanisms are required to distinguish between genuine "asylum seekers" and people who would merely prefer to live somewhere else.

“At this stage of global evolution, democratic countries play by these rules. They have to attract skilled people, tourists and investors in order to grow their economies and create jobs. But at the same time they must be wary of the enormous strain that uncontrolled immigration of unskilled people places on state resources. South Africa is no different. We cannot carry the consequences of all our continent's problems.

Zille said that South Africa has 6 million registered personal taxpayers and 16 million grant recipients. “This is an unsustainable ratio.”

“We simply have to extend our tax base through investment, economic growth and job creation. Otherwise our social safety net will soon be unaffordable,” said Ms Zille, adding that, “Our social infrastructure (such as schools and hospitals) will be stretched to breaking point. Contestation for scarce resources, including healthcare and jobs, are some of the underlying causes of what is sometimes described as xenophobia.

“So this is our dilemma: on the one hand we have an outcry over these new regulations that threaten to cripple our tourism industry and drive away investors. But on the other hand we face a seemingly uncontrolled influx of unskilled and illegal immigrants. This includes criminal syndicates, usually involved in poaching or drug dealing. How can we take effective action against those who circumvent the law, without punishing those who wish to be law-abiding?

Premier Zille made the point that instead of chasing skilled people away, South Africa should focus our resources on securing the country’s borders. She also said that partly due to gross inefficiency of the South African border police, the country is facing a huge influx of illegal immigrants. She wrote that she believes that tightening the country’s borders and empowering Home Affairs' Immigration Inspectorate should be the first port of call.

“Part of the problem is that we have no clear idea of how many non-citizens are living in South Africa. Home Affairs admitted last year that they didn't know. In 2009, the South African Police Service said there could be as many as 6 million illegal immigrants in the country. We spend more than R90 million a year on sending illegal immigrants back to their countries. This money would be far better spent on functional "prevention" than rectification.

“Minister Gigaba's new regulations will fix none of the problems. They will just cost us jobs and income, and they will undo years of hard work in marketing South Africa as a tourist and business destination,” wrote Zille.

The premier said that based on the importance the national Development Plan places on growing tourism and attracting investment, it is staggering that the reigning goverment choose to do the opposite through these new regulations, without solving the immigration-related problems we do have.

She concluded the letter by saying, “Minister Gigaba speaks of how happy he is with the "robustness of debate" around the issue. He also admits that there are challenges and that the regulations aren't perfect.

“We all understand the euphemisms, Minister. So why not just admit that you need to listen to the criticism and return to the drawing board?”

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