By Beverley Schäfer MPP, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture:
In a pre-briefing meeting, run by Home Affairs’ Director General, Mr Mkuseli Apleni, it has been revealed that once again the Department and Minister does not know its left from its right side, nor do they remember the contents of their own legislation, which just further adds to confusing South Africa and its Tourism industry.
Apleni in his briefing stated, that where both parents were travelling with visas and passports (which should really refer to all travellers) the unabridged birth certificate was not required.
Yet, South Africa’s new Immigration Regulations as well as the Immigration Amendment Act, 2011 [Act No. 13 of 2011] which came into effect on 26th May 2014 states clearly that where parents are travelling with a minor an unabridged birth certificate must be produced.
This is also clearly stated in the latest Standard Operating Procedure released last week across the world that minors travelling with parents must carry an unabridged birth certificate together with their passport and visa.
Despite some of the world’s largest stakeholders including international airlines, tourism representatives, various business chambers to name a few have all expressed concerns as to the impact of this requirement on families and minors travelling, yet Minister Gigaba and his office has blatantly disregarded and steamrolled ahead.
Even his own colleagues, Ministers Hanekom and Radebe including the President have requested for a review.
Minister of the Presidency, Jeff Radebe said in a WEF pre-briefing that, “despite the noble intentions of these immigration policies, they have had an unintended consequence which needs to be addressed.”
The Western Cape has been the only legislature in the country that raised the concerns over the Immigration Regulations almost a year ago. So much so, that our Standing Committee created the public space in the form of Public Hearings to engage with concerned stakeholders to determine the impact of the Immigration Regulations on economy.
Our 79-page report was hand delivered to Minister Gigaba’s office in November of 2014 once adopted and tabled as an official document of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. The findings were clear for the Minister to see that the Immigration Regulations would have a profound negative impact on the economy and jobs at large.
So there was no ‘unintended consequence’ as Minister Radebe calls it, but rather a failure from National Government to act on all the red flags raised both from the Western Cape and the stakeholders at large.
More concerning is when Minister Gigaba in his NCOP debate last Thursday, stated that the ‘DA only cares about the Immigration Regulations as if it is all the Department of Home Affairs is doing. The debate is an ideological one and not about the practical issue.’
Clearly Minister Gigaba is so hell-bent on accomplishing his mission that he frankly cares very little about economic impact and jobs lost.
Maybe, Minister Gigaba and the Department of Home Affairs should rather focus on spending his departments money more on enforcing our porous land borders instead of thinking visa regulations is just an ideological one. And if Minister Gigaba had not rushed the gazetting of the Immigration Regulations so quickly, that even Minister Hanekom and his Ministry missed it, South Africa would not be scrambling around dealing with this ‘unintended consequence’.