Visa regulations: Gigaba's review futile - James Vos

DA MP says minister concerned only with ensuring implementation of new rules is made easier for authorities

DA calls on Minister Gigaba to abandon futile Inter-Ministerial “review” on Visa regulations 

5 July 2015

The Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, must immediately put an end to the cloak and dagger Inter-Ministerial team set up to “review” the new job-killing visa regulations, and institute a substantive and wholescale review of these regulations that seeks to assess both their suitability and effect.

This follows a recent pronouncement by Minister Gigaba in which he categorically states that the visa regulations are here to stay, and that the Inter-Ministerial review team is tasked with merely ensuring the implementation of the new regulations is made easier for immigration authorities.

The DA, along with the tourism industry, has long held that these regulations are disastrous for the industry – which constitutes 9% of our GDP and employs 1.5 million South Africans – and must be abandoned. According to industry, 1 job is created for every 12 arrivals. In a country with a 36% unemployment rate, this potential to create jobs must not be jeopardised. 

While the ANC government and the tourism-terminating twins, Minister Derek Hanekom and Minister Malusi Gigaba are in denial, recent statistics prove this point. 

According to StatsSA, overseas arrivals for the first quarter of 2015 are down 7% from 632 642 in 2014 to 589 802.

The markets hardest hit are China and India, which are down 38% and 13% respectively. For the first quarter of the year, South Africa saw 19 104 arrivals from this market, compared with last year’s 30 767. 

Traditional source markets are also down. The UK dropped nearly 11% to 122 719 arrivals from 129 149 the year before. Germany dropped by 3% to 85 254 from 87 949 in 2014. The US dropped 7,86% during the first quarter of the year, with 64 125 arrivals compared with last year’s 69 592.

The evidence is clear – and the DA will not stand back while ANC policy destroys one of our country’s key job-creating sectors. 

I will therefore today write to the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba calling on him to suspend the regulations in order to prevent any further collateral damage from occurring, and institute a substantive and wholescale review of these regulations, not the current toothless talk shop in the form of an Inter-Ministerial team. The review must assess the effect of the current regulations and engage with the alternatives that could still achieve government’s goals without harming the tourism industry.

There are alternatives to the current regulations, which would not harm the tourism industry. The DA has made several submissions to streamline tourist facilitation by proposing the introduction of electronic visas and biometrics on arrival. These are been ignored.

Since Minister Hanekom assumed the office of Minister of Tourism just over one year ago, we have seen tourism plummet in South Africa. It is high time that he comes out of hiding, takes ownership of the current situation, and supports this call for a substantive review.

The DA believes government must always act honestly, transparently and in the best interests of all South Africans. Suspension of the regulations and a full-scale review is the only way to achieve this.

Statement issued by James Vos MP, DA Shadow Minister of Tourism, July 5 2015