Motsoaledi must account for short-term tourist visa fiasco

Issued by Angel Khanyile MP – DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs
01 Mar 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Angel Khanyile MP

The Department of Home Affairs has triggered a self-inflicted fiasco regarding short-term tourist visas, causing chaos and confusion among tourists and their own officials. On December 21, 2023, the department issued a directive mandating tourists seeking visa extensions to depart the country by February 29, 2024, to avoid being declared undesirable. This directive, leaked by media outlets in January 2024, exposed the department’s tendency to establish unilateral directives to sidestep the escalating dysfunction and delays within the Department of Home Affairs.

Despite the ensuing backlash and chaos, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi responded at a leisurely pace during his SONA debate speech on February 9. Succumbing to pressure, he backtracked on the directive, reaffirming the existing extension system. Tourists with extension applications, backed by a receipt, are safeguarded from being declared undesirable and can remain until a decision is reached.

The Minister was forewarned by the DA about the issues arising from the directive, which he chose to ignore. The Minister’s delayed response has left tourists uncertain about whether they should depart. Adding to the confusion, reports suggest that tourists applying for extensions are still being declared undesirable upon exit, blocking their return to South Africa for a specified period.

The department’s incompetence is wreaking havoc on the tourism sector and hindering economic growth. The Minister’s failure to publish any official communication on the matter and the disregard for tourists seeking clarity further exacerbate the situation.

As the Minister continues to ignore public concerns, we anticipate his appearance before the Portfolio Committee of Home Affairs to explain the department’s lapses in handling this situation.