Visa Regulations squeezes business out of South Africa

By Beverley Schäfer MPL, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture:

The new Immigration Regulations as well as the Immigration Amendment Act, 2011 [Act No. 13 of 2011] came into effect on 26 May 2014 with no opportunity for stakeholder engagement. These regulations have since pushed the tourism industry into recession.

I call on the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, to provide a report on the progress of the inter-ministerial committee. We need an urgent review of the regulations implemented by Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba.

South Africa’s Tourism Business Index report shows that business performance levels across the Tourism Value Chain has dropped from 99.9 points in the first quarter, to 83.6 points in the second quarter. The Economic Freedom of the World report has put South Africa at 96 among 157 countries reviewed, down 54 places in the last 15 years. The damage is not limited to the tourism industry, as Tata has indicated that SA’s visa and work permit policies might lead to a drive out of the country, preferring to set up their its headquarters in Tanzania. This will result in further job losses, something that South Africa can ill afford.

Ill-informed and hasty implementation of these regulations has already cost the economy thousands of jobs, and it might have destroyed a window of opportunity with the weakened rand to improve South Africa’s competitiveness. The Deputy President must draw a line in the sand and put an end to Minister Gigaba’s destructive Visa Regulations, which are negatively impacting South Africa’s economic climate, while there is still time to undo some of its damage.

  • We urgently need to place a moratorium on the new unabridged birth certificates to assist the tourism industry to bounce back from the dip in international visitor arrivals. In the medium term, we need implement less onerous requirements, as per international best practice.
  • The demand for biometrics of our visitors in China and India must be scrapped until we can obtain biometric information on arrival.
  • A task force must be set up to urgently look at how we can streamline visa and work permit policies, to maintain South Africa’s place as the preferred destination for business on the continent.

The decline in the tourism industry and the threat of multi-national corporations leaving South Africa, should be enough to prompt urgent action. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs stubbornly ignores the crippling impact of the Visa Regulations. The ANC’s disdain for business and blind obsession with state regulation is now costing the economy dearly.