Kenyatta sideswipes SA over visa restrictions

2015-05-19 08:15
Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

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Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta threw down the gauntlet to South Africa over its visa restrictions by inviting Africans to come and work in Kenya.

“Let me say on behalf of the people of Kenya that our doors are open to you. We welcome any African who comes to visit us to work and learn as long as they are happy to obey our laws,” he said.

His comments came as South Africa’s government was clamping down on illegal foreigners and tightening visa restrictions in its bid to curb xenophobia.

More expensive processes and tighter visa restrictions for Kenyans coming to South Africa, instituted last year, have been among the contentious issues that Kenyan officials hoped to discuss with South African authorities during this week’s visit.

It led to tit-for-tat regulations from Kenya’s side. These were dropped ahead of discussions that never happened.

“Kenya is happy on a reciprocal basis to issue African visitors with visas on arrival at our ports of entry,” Kenyatta told the opening of the Pan-African Parliament’s sixth ordinary sitting in Midrand on Monday.

Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper reported on Monday that Kenyan officials hoped to discuss the matter with their South African counterparts.

Currently South Africans in transit or visiting Kenya for less than 30 days do not require a visa, but the conditions for Kenyans have been tightened and they also have to pay a service charge of more than R700.

Kenyans in South Africa who need to renew their visa are required to return to Kenya to do this, something they are unhappy about.

Kenyatta said: “The building of bridges between our countries and people [in Africa] is a delicate task.”

He said it required virtue for countries “to resist the conflict trail of religious, ethnic and xenophobic conflict which we see flaring up in different pockets”.

He added that cooperation with other countries was also important for security reasons.

“For us in Kenya terrorism matters and vulnerability in this regard makes it important for us to forge close ties with our neighbours and be in tune with developments relating to this threat in other parts of the world.

“The radicalisation of young people extends between national and even continental borders.”

He said this required solidarity and cooperation.

“This solidarity cannot be achieved if we do not break away from the artificial boundaries created by our colonial masters.”

Read more on:    uhuru kenyatta  |  kenya  |  visas
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