Democratic Alliance supporters protest outside home affairs headquarters in Pretoria on Friday morning.
PRETORIA - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has threatened to undertake further protests if government does not repeal the contentious new visa regulations, blamed for job losses in the tourism sector, the party said on Friday.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane led hundreds of party supporters in a protest at home affairs headquarters in Pretoria on Friday.
“We will protest for as long as we can until they ensure that that these visa regulations are repealed. The fight is about visa regulations, but in the main, it is about job creation,” Maimane told reporters.
He said: “I expect the minister of home affairs to respond to me within the next two weeks. I will give him until the end of the month to do that. We simply can’t afford to let this thing to continue at the level that it is. It’s damaging to our economy. We will wait for him and then take further action from there.”
Maimane said the announcement this week by President Jacob Zuma that an inter-ministerial committee would be investigating the consequences of the visa regulations was a futile exercise.
“We know them. When you tell the ANC government that something is wrong, they tell you that we need an inter-ministerial committee. How many inter-ministerial committees do we need? We don’t want another inter-ministerial committee, we need action,” Maimane told the crowd.
Hundreds of DA supporters gathered at home affairs headquarters in Pretoria on Friday morning protesting against the new visa regulations. The crowd, dressed in blue DA regalia, waved placards and danced along Arcadia Street.
Most of the blue placards read: “Gigaba stop killing jobs” and “Save tourism jobs”. A sound system was placed near the home affairs main entrance.
The crowd sang, “Wena ulele lapo eNkandla …” (You are sleeping in Nkandla …).
Maimane told the crowd that the debacle was beyond home affairs, it was “about avoiding job losses.”
He said the requirements demanded from potential tourists under the new immigration regulations were cumbersome.
“In certain nations, people can’t even get unabridged birth certificates. In certain parts of the world, people live too far from our commissions and they can’t provide their biometric fingerprints. It becomes a requirement which is difficult to fulfil,” said Maimane.
Gauteng Democratic Alliance Leader John Moodey said the new visa regulations were “such a stupid and uninformed decision” affecting tourism and resulting in job losses. “South Africa deserves better,” he said.
Earlier this month, Statistics South Africa (StastSA) painted a bleak picture for the tourism industry, with year-on-year growth from 2013 to 2014 at just 0.1 percent, compared with 3.6 percent between 2012 and 2013 and 10.2 percent between 2011 and 2012.
In June, South Africa implemented new visa regulations, requiring children travelling into and out of the country to carry unabridged birth certificates.