South African Home Affairs says it is not ‘on its knees’ over British travel regulations and ‘keeps an open door’ on discussing the matter.
At a press conference on Thursday, 25 September 2014 the South African Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba spoke about the newly imposed visa and travel regulations that will affect British officials and Diplomats visiting South Africa.
“As from the first of September 2014, the department began implementation of visa requirements to British Diplomatic and Official Passport holders,” said Gigaba at the press conference, adding that, “This was done as a reciprocal measure to the British implementing a visa requirement to South African diplomatic, official and ordinary passport holders.”
Gigaba again explained the reasoning behind the new travel rules, “The department [of Home Affairs], and government at large, has attempted, over the years, to persuade British authorities to review their visa requirements. At our end, we will continue to engage with our British counterparts to change their stance on this matter.
“Obviously, on our part, the first is a full exemption for all South African passport holders, but in the least we can start with exempting the Diplomatic and Official Passport holders.
“We must emphasise that our requirement to British is limited to Diplomatic and Official Passport-holders. Ordinary British passport holders such as tourists will remain unaffected by this new requirement,” concluded Gigaba.
Officials and diplomats of the UK would have to apply for a visa in person at the SA high commission in Britain before visiting SA, Mr Gigaba said. He also said SA did not understand why Britain had introduced the requirements but dismissed the argument that the South African passport was not secure.
SA would consider reviewing requirements for British officials and diplomats if the UK was prepared to review their requirements on travellers from SA, said Mr Gigaba.
But earlier today the Mercury newspaper reported that the government says the “door is still open” for discussions with British authorities to have certain visa requirements waived in the ongoing visa tit-for-tat between the two countries.
This came after a media briefing by Minister Gigaba on Sunday. The minister emphasized that the principle of reciprocity would remain in place until the two countries reached a decision on the matter.
This move by the South African government was in response to Britain’s decision in 2010 that South African diplomats and citizens must apply for UK visas.
“We have said that our doors are open if the British would like us to discuss the decision we have made, but in leaving our doors open, our first prize is for the rest of the visa requirements for all South Africans to be waived by the British,” said Gigaba, adding, “that’s when the discussion with them will start.”
“For now we are implementing our principle of reciprocity, although we have targeted only diplomatic and official passport holders.
“We maintain the exemption of ordinary passport holders from the United Kingdom and Ireland. They still can come to South Africa without having to apply for a visa,” said Gigaba.