Jobs away: Mbete rejects ‘Gigaba Visa’ parliament debate

Reports have highlighted the harm caused by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s new visa rule, yet the loss of revenue, tourist numbers and jobs, is still not a big enough issue to be heard in Parliament. This after the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete rejected the DA’s call for a debate on these new regulations. Mbete said that a debate in terms of Rule 103 should be of “sufficient immediate public importance to give it precedence over other programmed business”, very disturbing considering that 1 in 4 South Africans are currently unemployed. – Stuart Lowman

(In the pic - Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba addressing the media during the Governance and Administration Cluster Media briefing). Governance and Administration post - State of the Nation Address Cluster briefing chaired by Minister Malusi Ggaba which outline progress made by government, held at Imbizo Media Centre, Cape Town, 17/02/2015. Siyasanga Mbambani/DoC.

by James Vos*

The clearest indication yet of the ANC’s indifference towards unemployment is the Speaker of the National Assembly’s rejection of the DA’s call for an urgent debate on the indefensible visa regulations.

Earlier this month I wrote to the Speaker, calling for a debate of public importance, in terms of National Assembly Rule 103, on the impact that the newly promulgated visa regulations are having on our economy and jobs.

In her responding letter, Ms. Mbete outright rejected my call, stating that a debate in terms of Rule 103 should be of “sufficient immediate public importance to give it precedence over other programmed business”.

In other words, according to the Speaker, job losses as a result of the visa regulations are not important.

This despite the fact that the impact of the new visa regulations on the South African economy in 2014 was a negative R2.6bn and a loss of more than 5,800 jobs, this according to an impact assessment report by Grant Thornton, commissioned by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.

The report predicts that in 2015, the number of lost foreign tourists due to changes in the immigration regulations is likely to increase to 100,000, with a loss of 9,300 jobs and the total net loss to the South African GDP of around R4.1 billion.

But it is not only current jobs that are being shed. According to the Tourism and Business Council of South Africa, for every 12 tourists that arrive on our shores, 1 job is created. Therefore the industry’s ability to create jobs for the millions of unemployed South Africans is being severely undermined.

Government must now face the fact that South Africa’s full-blown jobs crisis is a matter of urgent public importance.

The DA believes that the opportunity to find a job brings with it dignity, independence, a sense of self-worth and freedom. The impact these visa regulations are having on this must be dealt with urgently.

* James Vos is the Democratic Alliance’s Shadow Minister of Tourism

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