Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has responded to claims that the department is dragging its feet in implementing changes to SA’s immigrations regulations. A month after the changes were announced, members of the trade expressed concern that the changes had not been implemented and that there had not been clear communication around the changes.
In a statement issued this week, the Minister said: “We have taken note of recent statements concerning actions taken regarding concessions that Cabinet had made to ease the implementation of the amended immigration legislation and regulations. Let me hasten unreservedly to express our commitment to the success of the process.”
According to Gigaba, the actions that must be taken within three months – November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. He said the status quo would remain until the necessary actions had been taken. These include the capacity at the main ports of entry to capture biometric data. Gigaba added that the department was also “urgently looking at the legal instrument to facilitate the requirement of birth certificates for non-visa requiring countries being replaced by a strong advisory”. He explained that a legal instrument was necessary because current laws did not draw distinctions between children from different countries.
According to the statement, changes that will take place in the next three months include:
- Implementation of the capturing of biometrics at ports of entry, starting with a pilot at OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town airports,
- Looking at introducing an Accredited Tourism Company Programme for countries like China, India and Russia,
- Considering a long-term Multiple Entry Visa for a period exceeding three months and up to three years for frequent travellers (for business meetings), business people and academics,
- Ensuring that principals issue letters confirming permission for children to travel on school tours, and
- Extending the validity of the parental consent affidavit to six months.
“If we proceed carelessly without that legal instrument, we will be undermining our own legislation and placing ourselves in a constitutionally compromising situation for which we will be legally liable,” said Gigaba, adding that the department played a key role in the Inter Ministerial Committee and fully supported its recommendations.
Gigaba also played down the effect the regulations had had on tourism. “The regulations took effect in 2014 when there were already concerns about the state of tourism, not only in our country, but globally,” he said.
“I have directed the department to meet with the tourism sector,” said Gigaba. “In this meeting I expect them to further share with stakeholders the timelines of concessions and also hear from them on their role in assisting government to keep South Africa safe and prosperous.”