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Gigaba accused of undermining Ramaphosa

Tourism industry slams ‘confusing’ visa message.

Home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday failed to live up to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise of drastic changes to South Africa’s visa requirements, leaders in the tourism industry said.

He effectively retained the requirement for unabridged birth certificates for minors and failed to include crucial tourism markets in the list of countries for which visa requirements would be waived, according to three leading tourism industry associations.

Some controversial visa regulations, introduced by Gigaba in 2014 during his first stint as home affairs minister, have been blamed for a drop in tourism numbers.

Read: Tourism numbers paint a bleak picture for the industry

In 2015 it was estimated that the regulations had cost the industry R7.5 billion, with 13 000 travellers denied access to South Africa within the first year of the new rules. Thereafter, they seemingly lost interest and headed to other destinations, tourism leaders told Moneyweb.

Despite strong opposition from the tourism industry at the time, Gigaba stuck to his guns and refused to relax the visa requirements.

Last week, however, Ramaphosa announced that visa regulations would be relaxed as part of a crucial economic stimulus package aimed at easing travel for tourists, business people and academics. Gigaba was expected to flesh this out during a media briefing on Tuesday.

His announcement has however been met with responses ranging from disappointment to outrage.

He avoided the use of the term ‘unabridged birth certificate’ in relation to foreign minors entering the country, but said that instead of requiring all foreign travelling minors to carry documents proving parental consent “we will rather strongly recommend that travellers carry this documentation”.

He said immigration officials will only insist on the documentation in exceptional, high-risk cases, and that rather than denying them entrance, travellers would be offered the opportunity to prove parental consent.

David Frost, CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), called this “an obfuscated message that serves only to confuse travellers, much in the way it did when the regulation was first introduced three years ago.

“Issuing an international travel advisory only in October, after today’s vague statements that a UBC [unabridged birth certificate] may be requested by immigration officials, simply reintroduces the confusion we fought many years to dispel, and undermines President Ramaphosa’s attempts to make it easier for foreign travellers to visit South Africa.

“Our position from the start has been that this draconian, heavy-handed and nonsensical policy to combat child trafficking has no place in the modern economy. Rather, it should be dealt with through proper policing. Semantic changes to the regulation are not the solution.

“We believe the requirement to produce unabridged birth certificates must be eliminated immediately across the board to ensure South Africa’s competitiveness as a tourism destination and remove any confusion around the requirements for foreign minors travelling to South Africa.”

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, interim CEO of the Tourism Business Council of SA, said Gigaba’s announcement boiled down to no change in the requirement for an unabridged birth certificate that has seen thousands of travellers turned away at the airport. He called for it to be scrapped in totality. “You cannot patch something that doesn’t work,” he said.

June Crawford, CEO of the Board of Airline Representatives of SA, joined those criticising the lack of change in the requirement for the unabridged birth certificate.

Gigaba also announced that visas won’t be necessary for visitors from several countries (Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, São Tomé and Principe, Tunisia, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, State of Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Belarus, Georgia and Cuba).

Frost welcomed this, but said: “We would have liked to have seen an immediate visa waiver for visitors from the Middle East and New Zealand, a source market which has seen a decline of 30% in arrivals since visas were introduced.”

Tshivhengwa also welcomed especially the inclusion of Middle Eastern countries, but asked why New Zealand, Kenya and Nigeria were not included.

Gigaba further announced that visitors from China and India would in future no longer need to apply for visas in person. Applications could be sent by courier and biometric data would be recorded on arrival in South Africa.

Tshivhengwa welcomed this, saying that it would save prospective visitors from having to travel long distances within their countries to personally submit their visa applications before travelling to South Africa.

According to Crawford, the biometrics on arrival plan had been announced earlier, but Tshivhengwa said the department doesn’t have the resources to manage the process and that it will result in very long queues at airports. “You cannot implement something you cannot manage,” he said.

Frost said: “Our key markets of India and China remain constrained because of the inability of [the department of] home affairs to issue visas timeously. We need urgent implementation of measures to improve visa requirements for these markets so that President Ramaphosa’s vision of tourism contributing to the growth of South Africa’s economy can become a reality now, not later.”

Gigaba also announced that longer term multiple-entry visas would be available to several categories of visitors.

While Tshivhengwa welcomed this, he said South Africa’s restrictive immigration laws have greatly hampered the country’s attractiveness as a tourism destination and impacted the number of tourists who choose to visit. “It creates a barrier to entry, with financial and/or opportunity cost that a prospective tourist needs to overcome in order to travel to South Africa.

“Making announcements regarding changes to immigration regulations, without providing proper clarity, is frankly too little too late.”

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What the electorate fails to comprehend that this is another step to ensure that the unemployment rate continues to grow. More great electioneering material for the upcoming general elections. Keep on digging.

You are not going to get un-partisan cooperation from state capture enablers.

African way of doing things in hope of recognition wisdom at work.
Tourism is not fabrication. Needing skills, not available. But pure gold, or the sound of a full time cash till working. This have the effect of magic on the bureaucratic mindset. Outsmarting the, boer maak plan, method of the old. Which Resulted in hideous stupid criminal laws. Today we see attempts to create new kings, outsmarting all in pure stupidity. Hellbent on proving the old boer mindset right in politics.

Possibly the dumbest minister in Parliament.

Gigaba’s only qualification is that he wears spectacles.

I have it on good authority they are just plain glass, no lense.

Then again there is stiff competition – sooo many contenders.

Gigabyte is a little zuma stooge!! Fire him yesterday already. He does nothing but sell the country down the toilet!

I think that Gupta microphone is getting intermittent signal from Dubai.

I don’t think Gigaba himself understood the message.

Well, well, what does this pompous Gigaba effectively showing silly Cyril the middle finger illustrate? First, that Cyril has no real power or control over “his” ministers. Second, that Gigaba is a protected species, regardless of his limited competence and insolence and my guess is that this is because he knows who at the top of the ANC got what payoff form the Gupta type skullduggery. Lastly, that neither Gigaba nor Cyril care much about SA and its economic future. Gigaba probably spends way more time listening to where his wife wants to go shopping next that on matters for which we, the taxpayers, employ him. No surprises at all.

what a spectacle!!!

Luv it – “spectacle” and “testicle” to go with “smiley and “colgate”, and we see below that the man cannot get past the U-bend. This guy is so deeply implicated in the entire Zupta affair and should have been gone and locked up long ago.

Definitely Cyril gets his lifestyle audit idea going – this guy’s expenses on clothing, fashion wear (incl’s spectacles) and orthodontic work alone must exceed his “official” income by a mile.

Why does Cyril even keep a guy like this on board? He’s either doing what Cyril wants which is scary or he’s an idiot doing what Cyril does not want. Keeping him on is bad either way for you guys!

Wouldn’t it be better if ANC ministers would just quietly steal, rather than steal AND create stupid policies?

Wishing him replaced is pointless because all ANC ministers are useless and every ANC policy is stupid and counterproductive.

Interestingly this policy is actually more stupid than most because it doesn’t even align to any particular stupid ANC ideology. It’s just stupid all on its own.

What on earth makes this plonker so indispensable to the ANC govt? His bungling and ineptitude are well-documented. Yet he resolutely resurfaces time and again, spreading mayhem like the plague. Oh, the unfathomable absurdities of ANC rule….

It’s like that feeling you get when flushing the toilet and something just does not get past the bend, keeps popping up……

CR undermined himself by keeping this pottrottel in his government.

If Cyril thinks that he has the support and enthusiasm of his ministers it appears he does not. All we get is more of the same. Get rid of and make an example of these useless self-interested individuals. Why else would anyone think anything had changed?

What Gigaba is not mentioning is the growing human trafficking that is the reason this was done in the first place.

Politics and his reputation aside, the immigration officers need to have the ability to stop suspicious transits with people who have children. My suggestion would be to have an intelligence linked photo of anyone travelling with children with the right docs so that intelligence has something to work with to trace traffickers if someone exiting or arriving is traced to a kidnapping/trafficking incident.

Horrible problem without tidy solutions and the travel industry can help by also coming up with suggestions/solutions for the problem and not just making it about “my sales are down.”

What if this was all going according to ANC plan ? Gigaba caused the country to lose billions while also helping the Guptas. Maybe he has been put back in his old position to finish his work and destroy any evidence relating to the Gupta saga. An employee cannot just do what they wish without the boss’ consent so we have to assume that what he has done is exactly what CR asked him to do. If this is the case then we know that the rest of the “recession busting package” is all just talk aimed at keeping the ratings agencies at bay while the socialist experiment continues to destroy the very fabric of our society.

Birds of a feather flock together.Visa free travel for all rogue countries. Visas required from citizens of civilised countries.

Malusi Gigupta stuffed up before and now back in the same dept to do the same.Cadre protection!

Glasses are for intellectuals in Africa. So guess what, Gigaba thinks he is an intellectual.

This diot now wants to take Redi Thlabi to court…please diot just do it on your own cost and not on my cost…..due to your incompetence I’m already taxed to death.

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