South Africa's immigration updateCNBC Africa
Nozipho Mbanjwa – CNBC Africa: Now, South Africa’s immigration policies have been an issue of contention, but some are calling them unconstitutional. Immigration lawyer Craig Smith joins us from our Capetown studios for an update. Craig thank you so much for making the time to join us. Now, the Immigration Act if my memory serves me correctly came into effect about ten months ago. What’s been happening on the ground in terms of the impact on the act, and is it having the intended consequences?
Craig Smith – Immigration Lawyer: Good evening Nozipho, I think it’s having dramatic consequences at the moment. There are a number of people who are dealing with the rough of the enforcement laws. Families are being separated, skilled workers are struggling with accessing Visas, foreign investors are struggling to determine what the new rules are in so far as investment.
So everything that’s been set out in the preamble of the Immigration Act, which, sets up its policy considerations, is not being achieved. And this is a concern and at the end of the day they are elements of the executive perhaps encroaching their powers in terms of, you know, in terms of how immigration is being done.
Ashraf Mohamed – Regiments Capital : Craig, Ashraf here. You know you mentioned the skilled workers struggling with their visas, and when you start looking at alternatives for skilled workers around the world. In the US if you have a University degree that’s acceptable by their institutions it’s much easier to get a visa through the green card process. The same applies for most other first world countries, along with places such as Singapore, Hong Kong, et cetera. So aren’t we just losing the opportunity to attract smart people into this country and help the economy grow?
Craig Smith – Immigration Lawyer: Well as I said, I mean it’s a stated policy in terms of our immigration act. You don’t have to read very far to see the preamble; it’s right at the start of the act. Unfortunately South Africa needs to appreciate that we still need to make ourselves competitive, we still need to make ourselves a destination of choice. I don’t think we are self-sufficient in terms of our economy, and I think we are, regrettably, we’ve clearly upped the standard of requirement in relation to first world standards.
But the question is whether in fact we’re ready for such a regime and the proof is in the pudding. I mean the statistics will tell us that the number of work visas that have been approved, and business visas, has gone down astronomically. And the knock-on effect throughout the world, it starts to become an issue and people start to say, well, for example the form production industry would say well, we will go elsewhere. We’ll go to Miami to do our assignments. And I don’t think South Africa can afford to exclude ourselves from opportunity.
Nozipho Mbanjwa – CNBC Africa: What avenues exist, Craig, to now begin to interrogate some of these unintended consequences that this act is having on the ground? Is there any recourse?
Craig Smith – Immigration Lawyer: Well the difficulty, it’s a good question, there ought to be recourse. Rather than having sort of an open-door policy with home affairs, we find that they seem to be insulating themselves. They seem to be surrounding themselves with a lot more bureaucracy, where you cannot openly engage with senior officials as much as they publicize their details, their email addresses, their cell numbers. Regrettably you’re left isolated, you’re out in the cold, and to make representations on potential business investors who are losing out, falls on deaf ears.
Nozipho Mbanjwa – CNBC Africa: Craig, thank you so much for making the time to join us, and certainly hoping that Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba is keeping his ear to the ground to what the people on the ground are really saying about the impact of the Immigration Act. That’s immigration lawyer Craig Smith.
CNBC Africa, Immigration Update