PRETORIA– THE effects of the controversial new visa regulations will now be investigated, SA president Jacob Zuma confirmed today.
This comes after Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said last Friday, that a high level meeting of business leaders and government officials chaired by Zuma in Pretoria, had agreed “to engage” on the immigration regulations said to be harming South African sectors, especially tourism.
“There was an important agreement which was endorsed by the minister of home affairs. It is that there needs to be an engagement on the possible unintended consequences of the new visa regulations,” Davies told reporters at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guesthouse.
When asked what government will be doing about the contentious immigration regulations, Davies responded: “The agreement is that there will be an engagement about that. I think both sides will meet and discuss [them]”.
However today Zuma formally announced the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to look into immigration regulations.
“[Government] has noted the concern about the new visa regulations,” he told reporters at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
The committee, which will be chaired by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, will look at the consequences of the new immigration regulations.
Last week Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) painted a bleak picture for the tourism industry with year-on-year growth from 2013 to 2014 at just 0.1 percent, compared with 3.6 percent between 2012 and 2013 and 10.2 percent between 2011 and 2012.
In June, SA implemented new visa regulations, requiring children travelling into and out of the country to carry unabridged birth certificates.
Business Unity South Africa’s Jacko Maree said that facts around the repercussions suffered by the economy as a result of the visa regulations were not clear yet.
“I think it’s important that when such a meeting takes places, there are discussions around a common set of facts. I think the facts are not entirely clear,” said Maree.
“There are many parts of business that feel there has been a significant impact. We need to get the facts on the table. Every time you have legislation, there are unintended consequences and you don’t want those to damage our economy,” he said. – ANA additional reporting www.zimsinsa.com