Home Affairs has received a lot of media attention mostly because of the negative impact the new travel rules have had on individuals and the economy (mainly tourism and business). As a result, President Zuma has appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to review the "unintended consequences" of the rules, but will this IMC take any action that will be tangible?
The two bones of contention are the personal presentation (for biometric data) to the SA mission when applying for any sort of visa (in many countries requiring traveling of long distances), and the requirement of carrying unabridged birth certificates and other documents when traveling with children.
In a remarkable battle between Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, horrific figures of drops in foreign visitors (40% of the Chinese market) and subsequent job losses on the one hand, and of children trafficked per annum (originally claimed to be 30 000, then corrected to 23 in 3 years) have been publicly thrown at each other. So far, Minister Gigaba has dug in his heels hard and not given an inch. When taking over Home Affairs, he seems to have bet on the wrong advisers and now feels unable to change tack.
On 20 August, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Immigration Regulations met for the first time. The IMC appointed a task team to come up with recommendations by the 3rd of September. One would expect this amount of pressure to result in real change, fast - especially seeing that the data appears to be so overwhelming. However, this Minister's ability to stand firm in the storm and ignore sensible pleas and recommendations, has been proven before - so don't hold your breath!
On the positive, Home Affairs' counter-corruption efforts are starting to show real results with almost weekly reports of corrupt officials having been suspended and fired. The Department is finally starting to give this serious issue the attention it needs, which should eventually result in improved service delivery and greater predictability for bona fide applicants.