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."