Call to relax immigration regulations

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town will continue lobbying home affairs to relax new immigration regulations, the head of the city's investment directorate Tim Harris said on Thursday.

Addressing the Cape Town Press Club, Harris said the new regulations, which set a strict visa regime making it difficult for foreigners to work in South Africa, would hurt investment and business.

"It's really a significant challenge and it's one for which I don't have an easy answer," he said.

He said it was a "relatively short-sighted idea" that people came into the country and took away jobs.

"In the extreme short term that may be technically true but what that does... it brings skills here."

Wesgro, the official destination marketing, investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape, would continue holding talks with the home affairs department in a bid to get concessions.

However, this was unlikely to happen, as Deputy Home Affairs Minister Fatima Chohan told the National Assembly on Wednesday.

She insisted the new visa regime was necessary to protect the country's borders and the department had no plans to review them.

Speaking more widely about boosting investment in the city, Harris said he would focus on telling a new story about Cape Town.

This would be done through convincing medium and large companies to base themselves in Cape Town, growing current businesses and attracting high-growth start-ups to the city.

While the city was continuously winning accolades for being a top tourist destination, the same was not true for businesses.

"One of our doors is open to the world and the other isn't," Harris said.

"We top the list as a tourism and travel destination, but we're far down the list for competitiveness."

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Chris Maher 2014/08/29 05:57:08 AM
Accolades to Cape Town for their initiatives to attract investment. Several of my former varisty buddies from the UK are invloved in setting up tech businesses in Cape Town. Meanwhile Joburg continues to become an increasingly rat infested cesspit. Wait the the municipal elections ANC, you are going to lose Joburg.
Gwilym John Howes 2014/08/29 06:00:23 AM
Stick to your guns Gigaba. The whole world makes it hard for us to travel to their shores, with tough visa requirements almost everywhere. Yet THEIR citizens used to sail into SA effortlessly. Glad we are evening the playing fields now. Let their citizens see how troublesome tough visa laws can be.
Nolenga Skosana 2014/08/29 06:03:55 AM
I do understand the restriction s imposed by home affairs. People arrive in the country to sell brooms, pillow cases and drugs. Some sell harmful traditional medicine like causing stroke and heart failure. This leads to my question how do we deal with these people interms of correctional service act? The government is right to squeeze them out this way. NOLENGA@KWAMHLANGA
Algin Abdool 2014/08/29 06:17:08 AM
What skills are they bringing, we always had skills, they bring drugs into the country,is that what you call skills, It's the easiest Country to come into, to seek asylum it's all lies,
Oqondile Africa 2014/08/29 06:37:29 AM
There should be a clear distinction between highly skilled and unskilled workers. Unskilled people from Zim&the rest of Africa may be taking South African jobs, but we need highly skilled foreigners to start new companies in SA & create new employment opportunities.
David Freedman 2014/08/29 07:14:16 AM
Fatima Chohan in a parliamentary debate said there are no Islamist terrorist cells in SA, only to find out that one of the terrorists in Kenya Samantha Lewthwaite was a South African who lived in JHB. Is the Deputy minister at all in touch with reality? Or is she just another hypocrite.
Rofhiwa Ronald 2014/08/29 07:26:21 AM
Actually mr gigaba has atleast soften the immigration regulations by not chasing away all those foreighners back to their country soon . I'm staying in gauteng were this foreighners are like locusts in our backyards came to destroy anything good we have in our country . let the minister clamp down the boders by using visas to every foreighners coming to our country ,we had enough sh*t of this so called foreighners .
Richard Alberts 2014/08/29 08:41:47 AM
Well , one thing I can say Tim Harris is very attractive! Mmmm!
Eliza Visser 2014/08/29 09:43:30 AM
Not sure if I agree with the 'relatively short-sighted idea that people came into the country and took away jobs' - Wake up people - THEY DO! Very little skills transfer do take place. They come in, after a few years become permanent residents and then SA citizens. How many unemployed graduated young SA's are there? Why do we need foreigners to take the 'skills' jobs? Large SA companies use loopholes in the immigration policy to employ foreigners in middle level or top posts. The same happens with foreign lecturers at SA Universities -some of them can not even spell in English. What is the unemployment rate? We should start to reserve jobs for locals (and not only for AA). SA must follow the recent campaigns in Europe, USA and Asia; stricter immigration rules and more jobs for own citizens. I support home affairs in their campaign.
Jacqui Daane Van Rensburg 2014/08/29 11:51:37 AM
You don't stand a chance, at Home Office affairs they are under the illusion that they are making intelligent decisions. We all know where that leads to.