Malusi Gigaba. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA
Malusi Gigaba. Picture: ROBERT TSHABALALA

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has bemoaned red tape and a ministerial revolving door that make it difficult to push through policy changes.

Gigaba, who himself has been public enterprises minister, home affairs minister and finance minister, before moving back to the home affairs portfolio, told a Black Business Council (BBC) roundtable in Sandton on Friday: "The biggest problem the ANC needs to address is that a vision can’t be carried by an individual but needs to be carried by an institution. The vision must be sustainable even if the individuals aren’t sustainable."

In references to the various cabinet reshuffles in the past few years, he said: "We don’t even know whether we’re still going to be here to carry out these visions."

While the Department of Home Affairs had ambitious plans to make the department completely paperless, to review critical skills work permits and to manage SA’s borders, it was difficult to make changes, he said.

"The immigration act couldn’t deal with a number of challenges, we need a new policy framework," he said.

"Red tape makes it difficult for decisions to move speedily. To get something approved takes over a year. Things that need to move quickly, take forever."

Critical skills

One of the problems that needed to be addressed was that students from other countries who study scarce skills in SA are then lost to the workforce because they struggle to get documentation allowing them to stay.

“The manner in which the last white paper was drafted, didn’t allow us to attract critical skills. Students who studied critical skills here would leave and we would lose those skills,” said Gigaba.

Changes that are in the works would allow students to skip certain stages to get permanent residence immediately, he said.

A new white paper on immigration was passed in 2017 but implementation will take the next two years.

It is intended to make criteria for immigration clearer, and make it easier to apply and submit documentation.

Criteria for permanent residents to acquire citizenship will also be made clearer.

It also aims to create a clearer distinction between the citizenship process and the refugee regime, and to create a more durable refugee system.

“We are also looking at introducing long-term visas for low-skilled migrants from the Southern African Development Community region,” Gigaba said.

“It will … provide them with documentation and ensure they are integrated into society.”

Gigaba said economic migrants abused the asylum-seeker system instead of seeking regularisation.

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