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Cape town - The Western Cape government could take the national government to court over the new immigration regulations, says Premier Helen Zille.
She warned during her State of the Province address at the provincial legislature on Friday that the new immigration laws threatened the film, business and leisure tourism industries.
The Department of Home Affairs published the new regulations last month. They make a distinction between temporary visas and long-term residence permits, and have changed the process for changing visa types.
The City of Cape Town said it could result in the local film industry losing out on about R1 billion and put 1 600 local jobs at risk.
Mkuseli Apleni, the director-general for Home Affairs, said two weeks ago that the tourism industry would benefit from the regulations as it would be easier to apply for and obtain a visa.
“Just think about that a foreign national who wants to open a business and is now able to get a response within a period of three weeks,” Apleni said.
Zille said the province had asked for a top-level meeting with Home Affairs to discuss the regulations.
“If this fails we will consider initiating or participating in litigation on this matter,” she said.
These kinds of laws destroyed economic growth, penalised law-abiding citizens and were largely unenforcable against people who entered South Africa illegally, she said.
Zille unveiled the Western Cape’s key priorities for the next five years.
She said the province would support municipalities to improve service delivery, maintain old and build new infrastructure and remove obstacles for businesses to grow and create jobs.
On education, she said her government would work to improve the quality of teaching and enhance accountability, strengthen governing bodies, increase safety at schools, give more money for maintenance and expand the use of technology at schools.
The province would spend R3.3 billion on new health facilities and upgrading existing clinics and hospitals up to 2019.
Zille said there were six major housing projects that would deliver 14 360 units and the completion of phase one and two of the N2 Gateway housing project.
Leader of the opposition ANC MPL Marius Fransman criticised Zille for not saying anything about sanitation, evictions, people living in backyards and informal settlements, the taxi war, integration of communities, reduction of poverty and those exposed to the winter cold.
“It sounds too much like business as usual with little or no real interventions,” Fransman said.
The SACP said Zille’s speech would go down as the most aloof and far removed from reality and that she did not say how the province would address “the housing crisis”.
The opposition parties will have opportunity to reply to Zille’s address during a sitting of the legislature on Tuesday.