Johannesburg - Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday dismissed as "absolute bollock" allegations that he changed South Africa's visa regulations because of his alleged vested interest in blocking his ex-wife from travelling abroad with their minor child after their acrimonious divorce.
This comes as veteran broadcaster Redi Tlhabi went on a tirade on Twitter Tuesday night accusing Gigaba of ignoring expert advice and evidence against the 2014 visa requirements after he told Radio702 that the South African tourism industry had been having "pedestrian growth" and was not going to see overnight results due to repealing the draconian visa rules.
The domestic tourism industry has lost billions since 2014 when Gigaba introduced new visa regulations requiring children travelling to and from South Africa to carry an unabridged birth certificate and for foreign travellers seeking to obtain visas to South Africa to apply in person and provide biometric data.
"Minister. when are we going to have the real conversation? When are you going to be honest with the nation and tell us why you were adamant that your brainless visa regulations for traveling with minors were personal? That we all had to tow the line because you had a domestic issue?" Tlhabi said in a series of tweets.
"Is it not true that you were livid when a cousin of your ex-wife traveled with your daughter Lerato, whilst your wife was in Cuba? Upon finding out, you laid charges of kidnapping even though you knew your ex-wife's cousin very well and your daughter was quite happy with her?
"You had a personal issue of your ex-wife making travel arrangements with yr daughter without your consent, so you decided "I'll sort this problem out?" You implemented untested regulations, claiming to address child trafficking? Have your regulations brought child trafficking down?"
But speaking on SABC's Morning Live on Wednesday, Gigaba said Tlhabi was speaking from a position of ignorance because the visa regulations had nothing to do with him and were ready to be introduced when he became home affairs minister after passing through various legislative procedures.
"My child was not trafficked. It's absolute hogwash. I know the person who tweeted that. She was talking about something that is absolute bollock. I know what was happening and why it was happening. The issue really related to my daughter missing school days, it had nothing to do with trafficking," Gigaba said.
"I would never bring a personal issue into my professional work. It's absolute bollock. As I came into the office in May 2014 had to do with a law which had been passed while I was not at home affairs. I wouldn't walk into office carrying personal baggage that I was going to dump into the department.
"These regulations had been worked on by the department while I was minister of public enterprises. As I walked in they were here sitting on my desk, we had to finalise them and I had to announce them and introduce them. They had already been taken through processes, the law had already been passed by Parliament, approved by Cabinet, signed by the President. I think Redi Tlhabi was absolutely ignorant and very irresponsible in her tweet for bringing my child into this issue."
Gigaba was this week instructed to relax the regulations and announced that foreigners will now be required to prove parental consent if a travelling minor does not have the correct documents as the country seeks to attract more visitors as part of its "stimulus package" to boost the economy.
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African News Agency (ANA)s Agency (ANA)