Another year has passed, and while it still wasn’t a GREAT year, it certainly turned out better than the last. 

In terms of business, we started slowly but picked up very nicely in the last six months. We assisted on a few large projects in Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa in the Oil and Gas and automotive sectors. I was proud to witness two staff members step up and handle these complex and demanding projects with resilience and excellence.  

The subsequent work we have since received from the same client speaks for the quality of the key account management and project management. Our sister companies in Namibia and Mozambique also had a good second half of 2021.  

We had an awesome management retreat in early December. Large campfires, even after tens of thousands of years, still unite humans. Our goals for this retreat centred around team building, identifying our ‘Rocks and Pebbles’ for the coming quarter and looking back at how far we’ve come in to gauge how we can continue to best serve our clients’ immigration needs as Africa’s Preferred Immigration Partner. 

In addition, my little project to finally focus on Marketing has started to pay off. Just last week we were ranked in Google at #1 on the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) topic. I cannot believe that I underestimated the value of marketing for so long; what a mistake!  

Speaking of mistakes: another, a rather big one was to keep living in our house during a large renovation. Even though I’d engaged the services of a professional architect and builder, I completely underestimated the emotional drain caused by watching inefficiencies and bad planning, paired with sheer, daily incompetence. What was supposed to take three months took five. While I like the result, I am still too emotionally connected to the project to enjoy it fully.

The building site that is currently my residence pales in comparison to other disturbing issues this year: the riots in July, disastrous Department of Home Affairs (DHA) service delivery and the irrational, fear-driven global response to the discovery of the Omnicron strain by SA scientists that led to further travel bans by the EU, UK and USA.  

I found the most recent travel ban against Southern African countries deeply upsetting. I believe most South Africans felt badly done in. My parents live in Germany, so I’m fully aware of the worries and political pressure EU states faced when making the hasty decision. 

Our president, correctly, and in rather unpolitical, frank wording, said he was not asked about the situation first, only told. This paternalistic banning left a very sour taste. I wonder what would have happened if US scientists “found” the variant? Nothing is my rather uneducated guess. At least the UK has come to its senses; I wonder when Germany will follow. Fear results in selfish behaviour, where data and common sense should be utilised.  Hopefully, this is the last time holiday plans, family visits and fun is forced to be delayed. The UK has since emptied its red list, removing SA and 10 other countries. 

The past year has seen a massive step backwards in service delivery for the DHA. Processing times of up to eight months, a high percentage of blatantly wrongful decisions and lack of leadership made providing Immigration Services in SA painstakingly difficult. None of the (roughly) 15 other African countries we regularly submit in, faced these issues.  

The most recent decision by Cabinet to withdraw extensions to ZEPs and the lack of clear and timely communication on the issue did not show SA in a good light. The way we treat foreigners within our borders determines the way other countries in Africa and the rest of the world view us.  

Roughly 300 000 Zimbabweans who’ve made SA their home, grown families, started businesses, studied and made a living in SA, have a year to leave if they cannot change to a normal visa. This issue could’ve been handled a lot more humanely. Read my thoughts on this and suggestions to the DHA here

We’ve seen a strong transition to an online application system in the rest of Africa, particularly in East Africa. The Special Pass in Kenya is issued purely electronically. Their immigration system is moving online to eradicate (or limit, at least) possible corruption and enhance service delivery.  

I am looking forward to my next planned trip – the EURA conference in Seville, Spain, at the end of March. I truly miss the EURA crowd and look so forward to re-connect to all of them in person.  

Thank you to everyone who has supported us during the past year. It has been a great pleasure working for and with you. My team deserves a good rest, and we will be back in full strength in early January.  Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

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