Gigaba maintains visa stance

Cape Town - 141104 - Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Home Affairs, addressed members of the Western Cape Parliament’s standing committee for economic opportunities and tourism at the Western Cape Provincial Legislature. Reporter: Warda Meyer Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - 141104 - Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Home Affairs, addressed members of the Western Cape Parliament’s standing committee for economic opportunities and tourism at the Western Cape Provincial Legislature. Reporter: Warda Meyer Picture: David Ritchie

Published Nov 5, 2014


Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba is not buckling under pressure from the DA-led Western Cape government to reconsider his stance on the country’s controversial new immigration regulations.

Gigaba appeared before the Provincial Parliament’s standing committee on Economic Development and Tourism on Tuesday, where he challenged those with concerns to “come up with something big, something new”, to better what was already on the table.

He stressed that time concerns would not prompt the government to change the regulations, but if new facts came before it, it would consider those facts.

“There’s nothing new that has been brought to our attention. The concerns that are there don’t override the concerns we have which necessitated us taking these decisions.”

Gigaba said legislation was being seriously undermined by criminal elements and by poor administration on the part of the government.

This follows weeks of friction caused by the committee issuing a summons to force the minister to liaise with the committee about the affect the new regulations would have on the province’s economy and Gigaba’s repeated refusal to address them.

Committee chairwoman Beverley Schäfer said the committee found the immigration regulations would have a profound negative affect on all sectors of the economy at large, and most specifically on the Western Cape.

Asked why he decided to appear before the provincial legislature’s standing committee, Gigaba said: “I think it’s in the spirit of co-operative governance because it is necessary. It’s the first time we meet with a standing committee of a legislature, but we’ve been engaging with the provinces and even municipalities on issues of home affairs.”

Mentioning the summons, Gigaba said: “I am glad we were able to go over the summons, because it was a very hostile way of engaging on this issue, especially when it is an issue which is a national competency after all.”

Despite the bad blood leading up to the meeting, Gigaba said the exercise was useful, but added he had heard nothing new.

He urged people to calm down and comply with the regulations.

“This is not a world of tourists alone, it’s a world that tourists share with mass murderers who committed mass crimes in Kenya, in Nigeria, in Uganda and other parts of the African continent, and elsewhere in the world. If I go to the US, I’m a minister and I’m expected to take my shoes off. I don’t complain and it doesn’t affect the relations between the US and South Africa.”

Gigaba said the government wants to know who is coming into the country, from where they are coming, and their backgrounds.

“The new visa regulations are an attempt on our part to balance economic imperatives with national security imperatives,” he said.

Gigaba said we lived in a time where there was great concern internally about the movement of foreign nationals.

“The black widow (Samantha Lewthwaite) travelled to Kenya to commit a mass crime, through South Africa using a South African passport. A national of another African country who committed a crime of murder, strangled a foreign national in our country, and came to the country having applied for two visas in two countries using different names,” he added.

DA Chief Whip Mark Wiley said he was pleased that the minister stressed the issue of national security, but wondered whether the bad guys would apply for visas in the first place.

“We do acknowledge this is a national competence, however it has a provincial impact.”

Responding to Wiley, Gigaba said “bad guys actually do apply for visas” and enter the country on a proper visa and then start doing all sorts of things.

EFF’s Nazier Paulsen wanted to know if there was any chance of delaying the implementation and having further interaction from around the country.

But Gigaba said the legislation was now an act. “I cannot now ask the president to unsign it. We are implementing the regulations. Any law is not cast in stone, it can be amended if and when new facts arise.”

ANC MPL Sharon Davids spent most of the meeting insisting that the committee apologise to Gigaba over the summons.

Schäfer said it was alarming that the minister failed to recognise that people come to South Africa largely for leisure and business, and that there was sufficient legislation to tackle the problem of crime across borders.

“The question that must be asked is how the amended visa regulations will address this issue when he also indicated that criminals may get a visa too?”

Schäfer said a copy of the report containing the outcomes of the committee’s public hearings will be handed to the minister.

DA MP James Vos, spokesman on tourism, said on Tuesday that the new visa regulations were having devastating implications for tourist arrivals in South Africa.

“Tourist arrivals from fellow Brics countries in particular have been hit extremely hard. Reports suggest that new tourist arrivals from China and India are down by 80 to 90 percent since October.”

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Political Bureau

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