SPOUSAL and relative’s visas should be done away with because the system is being “abused by foreign nationals” to settle in SA, the ANC has said in an additional discussion document distributed to delegates at the policy conference on Friday night.
In the document, which the FM has seen and which wasn’t distributed before the conference, the party proposes that the Immigration Act should be tightened to contain fewer visa categories. “There is no basis from the immigration point of view to have a plethora of visas,” the document reads. It says the spousal and relative’s visa are “in essence visitor’s visas”.
It continues: “There is no rational basis to link marriage and/or [a] form of relationship (relative) to the immigration factors,” the document reads. The document envisages that existing laws regarding marriage and children should be sufficient to cover foreigners marrying South Africans, but doesn’t make clear what this means.
“Citizenship laws must be tightened to avoid undeserving foreign nationals becoming SA citizens by default and through fraudulent means and in the process exploit the country for some criminal and underhanded business activities,” a policy recommendation in the document reads.
The party points out that the US, Canada, Switzerland and Britain, as developed countries with more resources than SA, have strict laws governing citizenship, immigration and asylum “to protect the rights of their citizens”. The party also suggests that there should be an immigration board to assist the department of home affairs because the country is facing “challenging immigration issues” that cannot be resolved by the department alone. This is in response to vigilante groups being formed to deal with “illegal immigrants”.
The board should have representatives from the departments of trade, industry & competition; labour & employment; health; small business development; tourism;basic education; higher education; and defence & military veterans, as well as the director-general of home affairs. It also envisages having representatives from the police, the SA Revenue Service, civil society and organised labour on the board.
It adds that the recently published national labour migration policy, which introduces quotas for employment of non-nationals, “will go a long way in defusing the violence between SA citizens and foreign nationals over employment”. ’ But it does note that ANC branches “must take the lead” in helping communities report “illegal foreigners” to authorities.
The party also wants special courts to deal with immigration to prevent these from dragging on in ordinary courts. In dealing with asylum applications, the party suggests that SA look to the way Canada and the UK are dealing with these. Canada, for instance, has a more efficient way of dealing with hearings and appeals than SA, where cases can take years.
“Furthermore, the Canadian legislation makes a distinction between economic immigrants and refugees,” the document notes. It wants a new migration policy framework to be developed “to meet new challenges” locally and globally because, the party says, no such credible framework has been developed since 1994.
There are also suggestions that SA withdraw and then accede afresh with reservations and exceptions to the 1951 UN convention, the 1967 UN protocol and the Organisation of African Unity’s 1969 convention on refugees. SA acceded to these in 1996. It says “most countries on the African continent”, such as Zimbabwe and Zambia, have expressed reservations. — BusinessLive