South Africa will ease some immigration rules, including agreeing visa waiver agreements with more countries, in an effort to boost investment and tourism, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.

The changes are part of a broader economic turnaround programme announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week as his team seeks to drag Africa's most developed economy out of recession.

"We play a critical economic role in admitting over 10 million international visitors to South Africa annually, which includes tourists, business travellers, investors and neighbours," Gigaba told reporters.

"Millions of jobs are sustained by the economic activity generated by these travellers."

Gigaba said negotiations were also being finalised to conclude visa waiver agreements with more than a dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Qatar and the UAE.

Much-criticized rules on travelling minors will be simplified, he said.

In June 2015 new rules were implemented requiring parents to carry an unabridged birth certificate for accompanying children and consent letters from parents who were not travelling.

The tourism industry said the regulations, which came into effect during Gigaba's previous tenure as home affairs minister, were hurting business.

Tourism contributes more than 400 billion rand ($28 billion) to South Africa's economy, or around 8 percent of GDP.

 

(Reuters)

In President Cyril Ramaphosa's statement on the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan for South Africa, he highlighted the visa changes approved by the cabinet on Wednesday.
 
One of the key economic reforms mentioned in the president's speech was the country's visa regime, focusing on the amendments that will be made to regulations on travel of minors to South Africa, the list of countries requiring visas to enter South Africa, an e-visas pilot that will be implemented, and visa requirements for highly skilled foreigners that will also be revised.
 
"These measures have the potential to boost tourism and make business travel a lot more conducive. Tourism continues to be a great job creator and through these measures we are confident that many more tourists will visit South Africa," says Ramaphosa.
 
The full details of the visa reforms and waivers have yet to be made available but will be officially gazetted in October - ahead of the busy December holiday period.
 
Expected visa changes:
Cabinet received a joint report from the Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism - Malusi Gigaba and Derek Hanekom - which reiterate the visa-related reforms that will make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to visit South Africa.
 
The biggest issue is the hoops foreign tourists have to jump through when travelling with minors and obtaining unabridged birth certificates, and changes to this regulation will also be included in the reforms, the state has confirmed. 
 
There are also negotiations on visa waivers and relaxation of visa requirements from certain countries which are being finalised, and further details will be announced later this week.
 
This is expected to include China and India, as part of high-level agreements between the countries and South Africa that was announced in July during the BRICS summit. 
 
While the details of the Chinese visa agreement is not confirmed, Hanekom did mention that one of the options being considered was a “multiple entry Visa” that would be valid for five years and offer tourists up to 90 days in the country. 
 
South Africa is also rolling out e-visas soon, set to be a gradual roll-out starting with "Phase 1, Release 1, for applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission."
 
The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31 March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online, says the DHA
 
This is sure to make travel to South Africa much simpler and less complicated once it is up and running.
 
 
News24

A commission of inquiry into corruption in South Africa is underway. How it goes about its work, and delivers on its mandate, will have profound constitutional and political consequences.

This is more so because it is clear that deposed former President Jacob Zuma, who is at the core of the allegations, has launched a fightback campaign that can undermine President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to clean up government.

The remit of the commission, which is headed by Constitutional Court Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, is to establish the extent of what’s become known as “state capture” by rogue elements in government. Its findings will reveal how the country’s democracy was so imperilled within two decades of its founding election in 1994. It’ll also help ensure that the necessary remedial action is taken to prevent a repeat.

South Africa needs to find out how Zuma and his cronies, the Gupta family, were able to exploit weaknesses in the country’s governance system.

To perform its role effectively, a judicial commission must act as an inquisitorial inquiry whose job is to find out what happened and why. This requires it to refrain from acting like a normal (adversarial) court of law. The commission isn’t a substitute for criminal prosecution or, for that matter, civil litigation.

A great deal flows from this foundational point.

Zondo’s job isn’t to “follow the money” as some have suggested. Important features of the corporate labyrinth built by the Guptas and their allies and accomplices has already been uncovered, for example the property holdings of the Gupta family, or examined in court proceedings.

The commission’s job isn’t to track the flow of funds or any money-laundering machines. That will be the job of the criminal courts, as and when they get the chance.

Instead, Zondo should grapple with the politics of state capture. He needs to get under the skin of the politics of state capture; to get on record why and what happened; and to make clear findings of political accountability. Speed is of the essence. He needs to move fast enough that the commission maintains momentum and does not allow Zuma and other implicated parties to get out ahead of it, or to seek to tilt public opinion in their favour.

The urgency is underscored by reports that Zuma is plotting with others against Ramaphosa.

Process and powers

To evaluate the commission’s progress, it is important to keep in mind its terms of reference and its powers. What can Zondo investigate and what can the commission do about whatever it uncovers?

Firstly, its terms of reference are deep, but narrow. Seven of the nine elements of the terms of reference refer directly to the Guptas’ or Zuma’s interference with government decision-making and procurement. Tthe remaining two invite a broader inquiry into state procurement.

So the terms of reference are essentially confined to the Gupta family and its relationship with the democratic state – from the presidency and the cabinet, down through state agencies and state-owned enterprises, and down deep into the executive arm of government.

In digging for the truth, those responsible for what happened will – or should – be identified by the commission so that they can be held to account.

But what powers does the commission have to take remedial action to address any wrongdoings it uncovers?

Very little. Certainly, far less than people seem to think. The commission’s task is to investigate and report back to Ramaphosa, which may include recommendations.

These recommendations are not, per se, binding. The commission is essentially a fact-finding mission and does not have the power to make orders.

So the report could say, for example, that criminal activity has been committed, and the commission may refer the matter for prosecution or further investigation.

But, the prosecutorial authorities don’t have to wait for the conclusion of the commission process. Indeed, they should be following the proceedings closely and initiating action wherever it suggests that criminality may have occurred.

Uncertainty about this point has led to some procedural confusion during the opening fortnight, particularly around whether those implicated would have an opportunity to cross-examine.

Unfortunately, Zondo let the matter fester unnecessarily before finally ruling on September 11. He had little difficulty dismissing the application of the Gupta brothers on the basis that they are, in essence, fugitives from justice who are unwilling to come back to South Africa to give evidence to the commission. In the case of Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, he granted the application to cross-examine.

This may be justified. But it may also be a red herring. The best commissions of inquiry are those with strong “counsel for the inquiry” who don’t just lead evidence of one side of a story, but who test the evidence as they go along, adding to its weight and credibility, in pursuit of a robust version of the truth.

High stakes

There are anxieties about Zondo’s pace. It is worth remembering that this commission derives from the report on state capture by former public protector Thuli Madonsela. Because she had had neither sufficient time nor resources to complete her work, appointing a judicial commission of inquiry was the remedial action that had to be taken.

Madonsela wanted the commission to complete its work in six months. It was a rather optimistic target. But it wasn’t entirely unreasonable provided that the commission focused on the narrow scope set by the terms of reference, and organised its procedure in a lean and equally focused manner.

Zondo has asked for an additional two years. It very far from clear why he needs so long and has led the lobby group, the Council for the South African Constitution, to join the court proceedings to object to any extension.

Regardless, the commission needs to act as swiftly as it can. South Africans are being reminded daily that Zuma may have left office, but that he still is capable of muddying the waters. If it focuses efficiently on its core task, and evidence of the political conspiracy that underpinned the state capture project is adduced and tested, the proceedings of the commission may serve to keep a lid on Zuma’s fightback campaign.

The stakes are very high for all concerned – for Ramaphosa’s political future, and for the country he leads.The Conversation

 

Richard Calland, Associate Professor in Public Law, University of Cape Town

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has arrived at FMDQ Security Exchange building, Victoria Island, Lagos, for a meeting with the Nigerian business community.
 
The prime minister, accompanied by members of her trade delegation, arrived at the venue at 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday.
 
Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Mr. Femi Otedola, and Mr. Tony Elumelu, among others, had earlier assembled at the venue.
 
The meeting, expected to last for 40 minutes, would provide an opportunity for forging more bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
 
May had earlier on Wednesday afternoon arrived the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Ikeja, in Lagos after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
 
She is billed to spend time with victims of modern slavery during her brief stay in the nation’s commercial hub.
 
The prime minister’s visit to Lagos comes barely eight weeks after the French President, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, visited the African Shrine in Ikeja, Lagos.
 
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, accompanied by his deputy, among other state officials, received the prime minister at the airport.
 
After the reception, May drove out of the airport to attend to her engagements in the state.
 
After May’s meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria and Britain signed agreements on Defence and Security partnership, among others.
 
May’s visit to Nigeria is part of her tour of three African countries.
 
 
Vanguard...
Theresa May will lead an ambitious trip to Africa this week on her first visit to the continent as Prime Minister.
 
She’ll be the first British Prime Minister to visit Sub-Saharan Africa since 2013, and the first to go to Kenya for over 30 years.
 
This visit comes at a time of enormous change across Africa with a unique opportunity, as the UK moves towards Brexit, for a truly Global Britain to invest in and work alongside African nations, with mutual benefits.
 
The Prime Minister’s central message will be focused on a renewed partnership between the UK and Africa, which will seek to maximise shared opportunities and tackle common challenges in a continent that is growing at a rapid pace – from the Sahara to South Africa.
 
She will use a speech on the opening day of the visit in Cape Town to set out how we can build this partnership side by side with Africa, particularly by bringing the transformative power of private sector trade and investment from the UK to a continent that is home to 16% of the world’s people but just 3% of FDI and 3% of global goods trade.
 
As Africa seeks to meet the needs of its growing population the visit will also emphasise that it is in the world’s interest to help secure African stability, jobs and growth because conflict, poor work prospects and economic instability will continue to encourage migration and dangerous journeys to Europe.
 
Because nations cannot prosper without security, the Prime Minister will also use the visit to announce further support to tackle instability across the region.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
 
Africa stands right on the cusp of playing a transformative role in the global economy, and as longstanding partners this trip is a unique opportunity at a unique time for the UK to set out our ambition to work even closer together.
 
A more prosperous, growing and trading Africa is in all of our interests and its incredible potential will only be realised through a concerted partnership between governments, global institutions and business.
 
As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships. This week I am looking forward to discussing how we can do that alongside Africa to help deliver important investment and jobs as well as continue to work together to maintain stability and security.
 
 
I am proud to be leading this ambitious trip to Africa and to become the first UK Prime Minister in over 30 years to visit Kenya.
 
The Prime Minister will be joined by a business delegation made up of 29 representatives from UK business – half of which are SMEs – from across all regions of the UK and its devolved administrations. The delegation shows the breadth and depth of British expertise in technology, infrastructure, and financial and professional services.
 
Delegates include:
 
the London Stock Exchange
Cardiff-based cooling technology firm Sure Chill
solar tech provider Northumbria Energy from North Tyneside
London-based start-up Farm.ink who have created a knowledge-sharing mobile platform for farmers
Northern Irish agri-tech leader Devenish Nutrition
the world-renowned Scotch Whisky Association and Midlands manufacturing giant JCB
Also travelling are Trade Minister George Hollingbery and Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin. Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns will join the visit in South Africa to support the Welsh companies in the business delegation, while the Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman is also accompanying the Prime Minister.
 
The Prime Minister will begin her trip in Cape Town in South Africa where she’ll see President Cyril Ramaphosa and meet young people and business leaders.
 
While in South Africa the Prime Minister will present the Mendi bell to President Ramaphosa in a ceremony at Cape Town’s presidential office the Tuynhuys – over a century after it was lost in a shipwreck.
 
Over 600 troops, the majority black South Africans, died when the Mendi tragically sank in the English Channel in 1917, on their way to join the Allied forces on the Western Front. It was the worst maritime disaster in South Africa’s history, and the Mendi has become a symbol of the country’s First World War remembrance.
 
In Nigeria the Prime Minister will meet President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja and spend time in Lagos meeting victims of modern slavery – a cause Theresa May has worked passionately to tackle.
 
In Nairobi she will meet President Uhuru Kenyatta and see British soldiers training troops from Kenya and other African countries in the techniques needed to identify and destroy improvised explosive devices before they go to fight Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
 
She will also commit to helping support the next generation of energetic, ambitious young Kenyans as they seek to build a more prosperous country in the years ahead.
 
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA
South Africa’s Upper House of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces (NCP), on Tuesday approved the controversial National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill which will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.
 
The Parliament said the NCP approved the bill without amendment.
 
The bill, which Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant introduced in November 2017, aims to provide for a NMW and the establishment of a commission with clear functions and composition for implementation, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
 
The National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) had earlier approved the bill and referred it to the NCP. Once signed by Ramaphosa, the bill will become law.
 
The bill sets 3,500 rand (about 243 U.S. dollars) per month or 20 rand (about 1.4 dollars) per hour for over six million working people in the country.
 
Trade unions have lambasted the NMW as “slavery wage,” saying the working class cannot make both ends meet with the meagre NMW.
 
In May, massive protests against the bill took place across the country.
 
Trade unions have threatened to stage more protests if the NMW wage is not raised to a living wage.
 
The government says setting the NMW was informed by research and robust analysis of various scenarios and their possible ramifications, not by some idealistic desires.
 
All social partners have worked hard for nearly three years to reach agreement on the NMW to improve the conditions of millions of poor families, according to the government.
 
Ramaphosa has pledged to increase the NMW over time in a way that meaningfully reduces poverty and inequality.
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s late night announcement that the government was going to push ahead with implementing a decision taken by the African National Congress (ANC) at its national conference last year to expropriate land without compensation has set the cat among the pigeons.

Speculation is widespread that Ramaphosa gave in to the land expropriation without compensation proposition to appease a faction of former president Jacob Zuma which has positioned itself as a champion of “radical economic transformation”.

There is also the view that Ramaphosa is out to promote party unity and to outflank the Economic Freedom Fighters, to the party’s left, in the buildup to the 2019 general election.

All this appears fair comment, and is no way unduly cynical. Politicians say things, whether or not it is entirely wise to say them, to get votes.

Yet the land debate is about much more than party politicking. In many ways, it goes to the heart of South Africa’s post-colonial politics. It speaks to fundamental racial chasms. This points to the very real danger that the different terms on which the land issue is debated simply don’t address each other.

It would seem to me that there are three broad approaches to which the land issue is debated – the instrumental, the functionalist and the symbolic.

All three approaches have a number of things in common. They all recognise the dangers inherent in the grossly disproportionate amount of land owned by whites, they accept that this has arisen out of the injustices of the colonial past, and agree that it needs to be addressed for reasons of both social justice and political stability.

Beyond that there tends to be disagreement about ways, means and the urgency of land reform.

It’s important to understand these different approaches and how they relate to the ANC’s proposed implementation of land expropriation without compensation. It’s particularly important for people who hold these different viewpoints to understand and find one another. South Africans can’t afford to let the land debate be reduced to a shouting match.

The instrumental approach

This argues its case upon both ideological and constitutional grounds.

There is the argument that the ANC’s move represents a fundamental undermining of property rights, to the extent that it might even threaten the ownership rights of ordinary house-owners in urban areas. As such, it constitutes a major disincentive to investment and totally contradicts Ramaphosa’s highly-touted goal of attracting USD$100 billion in investment over the next five years.

Furthermore, because of the threat to security it involves, the move will serve as major discouragement to commercial farmers, who are unlikely to pour money into infrastructural improvements if they fear being expropriated. As such expropriation without compensation is a major threat to both jobs and economic growth.

The property rights argument is backed up by those who posit that the considered constitutional amendment is unnecessary because the constitution already allows for the expropriation of property by the state for public interest purposes.

This, the constitutionalists argue, gives the state all the armoury it needs to pursue land reform with urgent speed without threatening property rights.

The functionalist approach

This says that there is a desperate hunger for land among impoverished black poor. This needs to be addressed on grounds of need and political stability.

Economically, the argument is that, while the role of commercial agriculture as the principal producer of the nation’s food supply and of significant exports need to be recognised, there are many areas where farming could be successfully undertaken by black farmers, given the right support. This perspective is steeped in history. It points out how white commercial agriculture was systematically advantaged by the state under white rule, and how prosperous black peasant communities, whose competitiveness constituted a threat to white farmers, were dispossessed.

It’s argued that there is much land available in South Africa which could valuably be transferred into private or communal black hands. Such land includes property owned by the state, land held by speculators, and farms which over the last two decades have shed most of their workers as they have turned over from direct food production to become game farms.

The symbolic approach

This angle to the debate appeals to the heart as much to the head. It harps on the point that land belongs to Africans. It was stolen by the colonialists and should be given back.

The symbolic approach is overwhelmingly about African dignity. As such, it often involves notions of reparations. It tends to brush aside all the difficult policy issues about how land transfer should be managed, let alone the injustices which may be heaped upon white landowners who had nothing to do with the original theft of African land.

Meeting of minds

Ramaphosa is well known for playing the long game, a pragmatist who is ready to bend to political pressures to achieve his long-term objectives.

It may well be that he will bow to the ANC imperative to pass a law allowing for expropriation without compensation. But he will want to make sure that it will pass constitutional muster. He will ensure that this amendment meets the requirements of the property clause in the constitution.

From this perspective, it’s tempting to conclude that the huffing and puffing about the ANC’s pursuit of expropriation without compensation is really about nothing. But that’s not the case. The Zimbabwean experience confirms this.

It was the Zimbabwean government’s lack of urgency about land reform in the first decades of independence which provided the backdrop to the war veterans’ seizure of white farms in the late 1990s. It was then that the Robert Mugabe government stepped in to give the land seizures legitimacy and to claim the credit.

Much controversy attends the land question in Zimbabwe to this day. Certainly, the post-2000 land reforms have not been a total failure. Nonetheless, what is beyond dispute is that the way they have been carried out has come at enormous cost to overall agricultural production. As such, the Zimbabwe mode of land reform is one South Africa cannot afford to adopt – or to be bundled into by a panic-stricken government scrambling to keep up with events on the ground.

The ConversationThe address of the land issue requires a meeting of minds. The instrumental, functionalist and symbolic approaches all have their important role to play, and humility and willingness to listen to competing perspectives should be at a premium.

 

Roger Southall, Professor of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

South Africa’s trade surplus widened more than expected to 12 billion rand ($915 million) as exports in precious, base metal and vehicle parts jumped, easing pressure on the economy and lifting the currency.
 
The South African Revenue Service said in Johannesburg that exports rose by 7.1 per cent on a month-on-month basis to 110 billion rand in June, while imports dipped 0.9 per cent to 98 billion rand.
 
Commodities led the rise in exports with sales of precious metals up 38 per cent and base metals rising 13 per cent in the month. Sales of vehicles equipment also went up 8 per cent.
 
Analysts said the large surplus was a sign the current account was narrowing, which would lessen the impact of any reversal of portfolio flows.
 
“This is the fourth month in row of surpluses so it will definitely reduce the current account deficit in the second quarter,” said senior economist at Nedbank Isaac Matshego.
 
“But remember, the current account is structural so we really do need those portfolio flows to keep coming in,” Matshego added.
 
The rand responded to the news of the widening surplus by rising slightly on the data, trading at $1 =13.1350 at 1300 GMT, about 0.2 per cent firmer.
 
The rand has rallied in the past month to become one of the top performing emerging market currencies, due mainly to positive turn in sentiment, but analysts warn it remains at risk to offshore events, particularly the ongoing trade tiff between the United States and China.
 
Africa’s most industrialised country ran a large current account deficit of 4.8 per cent of GDP in the first quarter.
 
 
Source: News24

South African ruling African National Congress will push ahead with plans to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday, a move likely to unnerve investors.

The ANC had said in May it would “test the argument” that land redistribution without compensation is permitted under current laws, a plan that would have avoided the risky strategy of trying to change the constitution.

The proposal was first adopted in December by the party.

“It has become pertinently clear that our people want the constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation as demonstrated in the public hearings,” Ramaphosa said in a recorded address to the nation.

“The ANC will through the parliamentary process finalise the proposed amendment to the constitution that outlines more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be effected.”

Most land remains in white hands, making it a potent symbol of lingering inequalities 25 years on from the end of apartheid.

Since white minority rule ended in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing-seller, willing-buyer” model whereby the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks. Progress has been slow.

Some investors are concerned that the ANC’s reforms will result in white farmers being stripped of land to the detriment of the economy, although Ramaphosa has repeatedly said any changes will not compromise food security or economic growth.

South Africa’s economy has barely grown in recent years, with the growth outlook remaining much lower than the 5 percent annual growth government is aiming for to make a dent in near-record unemployment.

Data showed on Tuesday that South Africa’s unemployment rate rose to 27.2 percent of the labour force in the second quarter from 26.7 percent in the first quarter.

Ramaphosa said the unemployment figures were “quite worrying,” saying the ruling party has told the government to move with urgency to develop and implement a stimulus package to ignite economic growth. Ramaphosa said the measures will, among others, include increasing investment in public infrastructure.

“This stimulus package will be based on existing budgetary resources and the pursuit of new investments, while remaining committed to fiscal prudence,” Ramaphosa said.

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