- South Africa’s failing visa services have left approximately 56,000 foreigners in uncertainty, negatively impacting the country’s economy and business growth.
- The administrative chaos discourages foreign companies from investing and skilled professionals from working in South Africa, exacerbating the country’s skills deficit.
- BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce a credible intervention during the South African Investment Conference to address the visa crisis and its repercussions on the economy.
The South African economy and business growth are being negatively impacted by the country’s failing visa services, which have left thousands of foreigners in a state of uncertainty. Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO, Busi Mavuso, has expressed her concern over this issue and urged for a resolution in her weekly letter. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has struggled to process a backlog of visa applications, leaving approximately 56,000 foreigners in danger of having their visas cancelled by the end of March.
Thankfully, these individuals received a last-minute extension on their existing visas’ validity, which now lasts until the end of the year. Nevertheless, the situation remains dire as people’s lives are thrown into chaos, unsure whether they will be permitted to remain in the country they consider home.
Originally, the 56,500 visas in question were scheduled for completion by June 2024. However, the situation has continued to deteriorate, with the DHA announcing on 29 March that its backlog had grown to nearly 62,700 since last year. To alleviate the issue, temporary measures were implemented by the DHA to assist foreign nationals facing delays.
Mavuso has emphasized the detrimental effects this visa chaos has on businesses and South Africa’s economy. The country is in dire need of skilled professionals to maintain and build infrastructure, such as factories, water systems, and power plants. It is crucial to make international companies feel welcome and confident about investing in South Africa without the fear of bureaucratic issues preventing them from sending their personnel.
The administrative turmoil is a significant deterrent for foreign companies, as they are not only concerned about their workers being stranded abroad but also the ripple effects on families who cannot plan their move due to the unpredictable processing times. Mavuso explained that if South Africa aims to be an attractive destination for skilled professionals, it must also accommodate their families, providing them access to education, healthcare, and safe housing.
While there has been some progress made in addressing the visa issues through Operation Vulindlela and interventions provided by Invest SA, these initiatives cannot replace the need for an efficient state delivering on its policies. Mavuso called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce a credible intervention to resolve the visa crisis during the South African Investment Conference next week, as the country’s economic growth and business prospects depend on it.