Politics & Legal

Calls for Home Affairs Minister to Reverse Visa Extension Continue to Grow

As pressure mounts on the newly appointed Home Affairs Minister, Leon Schreiber, to reverse his decision on visa extensions, various political entities and citizens voice their concerns. Schreiber’s decision to extend temporary concessions for visa applicants has sparked significant debate on its impact on South Africa’s job market and immigration system.

In the wake of mounting calls for the new Home Affairs Minister, Leon Schreiber, to reverse his decision to extend the deadline for visa applications, political party ActionSA has urged the minister to prioritize employment for South Africans.

A day after taking office, Schreiber extended the temporary concessions for foreign nationals awaiting the outcomes of visa, waiver, and appeal applications. This extension aims to protect applicants, including those contributing to South Africa with their scarce skills, from adverse consequences or being erroneously declared undesirable while waiting for their applications to be processed.

“The decision to avert adverse consequences for applicants who seek to obtain lawful visas in order to contribute to South Africa, either through their skills or as tourists, signals the minister’s commitment to improving the visa system to make South Africa a more attractive destination for international investment, tourism, and job creation,” stated the Department of Home Affairs.

However, opposition to Schreiber’s decision has grown. A petition by Kaneth Smollan criticized the extension, arguing it did not favor the country’s interests. The petition called for South Africans to prevent the extension of working visas for immigrants, claiming it undermines local employment opportunities and the efforts of the former minister, Aaron Motsoaledi.

ActionSA’s caucus leader in the National Assembly, Lerato Ngobeni, also condemned the minister’s prompt action, asserting that ActionSA opposes the swift extension of temporary concessions. Ngobeni emphasized that the minister should prioritize addressing illegal immigration with the same urgency.

Schreiber defended his decision, explaining that it was intended to attract business and skilled investment to South Africa and make the country more competitive. Despite this, parties like the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and other critics remain unconvinced.

Ngobeni highlighted that corruption and mismanagement within the Department of Home Affairs have allowed criminal elements to exploit the visa system, contributing to the proliferation of illicit goods and necessitating stronger immigration controls.

“The spiraling crime rates linked to foreign crime syndicates operating with near impunity, and the widespread exploitation of cheap foreign labor in an already constrained labor market, have left millions of South Africans without job opportunities,” Ngobeni said.

The ATM expressed similar concerns, stating that the extension undermines skilled South Africans overlooked by employers in favor of foreign workers. They argued that Schreiber’s policy neglects local job protection and exacerbates economic challenges.

Responding to the criticism, Schreiber described the calls for reversing his decision as “ignorant,” emphasizing that the concession applies to legal visa holders already contributing to the country. He stressed the importance of processing legal renewals, waivers, or appeals due to a backlog in the system.

“The days of unchallenged fake news peddling are over. The time for the rule of law and unlocking economic growth to create jobs has arrived,” Schreiber said on his social media account.

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