Cape Town – This morning’s interview with the Minister of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) of South Africa, Malusi Gigaba, sparked more questions than answers when he joined SABC2 live at the Gallagher Convention Centre. The interview was conducted in an attempt to answer questions and eliminate concerns surrounding the implementation of the new immigration laws that were passed on 26th May earlier this year.
Since the implementation of the new immigration laws, the South African tourism industry are expected to suffer from great economic losses, families have been split in half and South Africa could be losing opportunities to employ foreigners that are needed to fill the positions on our critical skills list.
During the interview a member of the audience asked Gigaba about the removal of Directive 43, which gave foreigners with pending visa submissions the ability to travel freely in and out of South Africa provided they were holding a visa submission receipt. Gigaba answered that the Directive was removed in order to eliminate the abuse of the system. According to the Department of Home Affairs, visa submission receipts were illegally shared among foreigners.
This morning was one of the few instances that the microphone turned to the crowd, since the implementation of the new immigration laws, which was more than a month ago. A woman in the audience stated that the new VFS centres, which were particularly put in place to fast-track the visa application process take an average of 4 hours to submit applications. Gigaba explained that the systems are still new and need time to adjust and operate smoothly.
One woman mentioned that she had been and still is waiting for her pending Permanent Residency Permit for the past 6 years. She stated that the woman who had been ‘helping’ her was unable to answer her questions or provide her with the necessary help and guidelines needed to receive her visa. Gigaba encouraged her to submit a complaint and raise these issues with him personally.
Whilst the public raised many concerns pertaining the new South African immigration laws, they also mentioned their understanding of the necessity of the implementation and their appreciation of the intentions behind them. One person tweeted that, while they agree with the new law regarding travelling with children and tackling the issue of child trafficking, they were very disappointed when they finally received their child’s unabridged birth certificate and it had a spelling error on it.
The issue is not the new immigration laws, as Minister of Home Affairs Gigaba mentioned in the interview. The issue is the waiting period for the documentation, the lack of skills and training among the Department of Home Affairs officials and the implementation of the immigration laws.
Gigaba admitted that new laws are always imperfect when first implemented and he expressed his appreciation of the public participation in the discourse surrounding the new immigration laws. However, the one and a half hour interview was more of a justification of the implementation of the new laws, rather than a plan forward to combat the issues raised.
Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba invited the public to email him directly with any queries regarding the new immigration laws. You can reach him on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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