Why Kiwi Grahame Thorne is a fan of SA’s Home Affairs minister

My occasional Kiwi correspondent Grahame Thorne – yes, the All Black and Blue Bulls centre and former NZ MP – is understandably bleak about cricket right now. But also delighted that South Africa’s Home Affairs department has found some post-Gigaba sanity.

In his budget vote to Parliament last week new Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced visa-free travel to SA for seven countries, including New Zealand. It reverses a retaliatory 2016 decision after NZ implemented Visas for South African passport holders after many were denied entry at NZ airports.

Thorney says he will now be able to visit his 10 year old grandson in SA more often: “I won’t have to fly to Wellington after filling in nine pages describing where I was going, who I was staying with, how much money I had to cover my trip, which airline I was flying with and so on…”

Other newly visa-free countries are Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe (which is an island off Gabon). Some big spending tourist populations among them. Perhaps not the leap which sceptics want, but at least it’s a reflection of the more sensible economic approach we expect from Rama-cabinet.