South Africa's stupidest policy

2015-01-07 06:20

Immigration in SA is still in tatters.

The Financial Mail in South Africa recently published an article named "SA's stupidest policies". (You can find the full piece here.) Three of the policies nominated were technological problems with e-tolling, SA's electricity policy and South Africa's teachers' unions. The fourth was yet another nail in the coffin of the current Department of Home Affairs' ever-stricter immigration Act and regulations.

The article, written by Nazmeera Moola, said:

"SA is short on skills. Skilled people create jobs for unskilled, unemployed people. Instead of doing everything possible to encourage skilled people to live in SA, the department (of Home Affairs) appears set on keeping skilled people out or getting rid of them. Its policy has no impact on unskilled foreigners, who are going to continue to sneak in. I met an American last week who runs a health NGO in SA. He raises the money abroad and has worked on some very successful programmes. But his visa is about to expire and he is about to be kicked out. I've spoken to at least three multi-nationals whose investment plans have been affected by SA's asinine regulations."

This is in stark contrast to countries that simply "get it". The US has recently implemented wide-reaching immigration law that assists unskilled labour to stay in the country. For some sectors there are skill gaps that need more skilled labour and people are doing something about it, as Paul Graham, revered investor and tech-entrepreneur mentions in his piece about letting programmers into the US.

Germany and Canada, as well, let skilled labour in, even when the people complain about it. Amid protests from citizens, Germany's government supports the influx of people who can make a difference to the economy. Wolfgang Schäuble, the finance minister, spoke out about this recently on the Telegraph, saying that just as millions of immigrants rebuilt Germany after the war, so we need them today. This applies to both skilled and unskilled labour.

In South Africa, a total reversion of what works. The current critical skills list does not even make provision for teachers, a more-than-critical need in our education-hampered nation. Processing times of visas and the quality of processing (losing applications, errors in processing, etc) have been key issues since before 2010. Home Affairs continues to hire under-qualified people and pay them low salaries, evident to us when we receive CVs for our own immigration company's positions.

But coming back to the article in the Financial Mail. The fact remains that whatever the immigration law in a country is, it should tie in with the economic needs of businesses and individuals. This is not the case in South Africa right now and therefore we second the nomination that SA's immigration policy currently is the stupidest that the country has.

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