July 28 2020
A week ago, I took my family for a 5-day holiday to Prince Albert in the Karoo, where we stayed at farm cottage close to Barrydale. While I was glad to get out of town for a couple of nights, since I had not travelled anywhere since March, it was a very sobering experience.
Prince Albert has experienced a sudden boom over the past ten years. Former cosmopolites have bought properties and moved there, working remotely and enjoying a calmer lifestyle.
The town is very picturesque with its timeless Victorian and Dutch houses. Many of the buildings have been renovated and are located at the foot of the famous Swartberg Pass.
The importance of tourism is evident with plenty of guesthouses available. During our two nights stay only one restaurant and one café was open. The restaurant “The Rude Chef” served the most amazing food, trust me, and remained opened for 3 hours in the evening serving Merlot and Sauvignon Rose and a very interesting, strong tea. The café was only open in the afternoon.
From the approximately 20 guest houses on offer, only two were open. On our way back, we stopped in the stunning town of Montagu. Being an early Sunday afternoon, I was surprised that not one of the many restaurants or shops was open! This is certainly alarming as those who know Montagu will be familiar with the large amount of weekend tourism it usually receives.
South Africa is supposedly an Open Economy, correct? These areas in the Western Cape depend on the wine and tourism industry to make a living. This very bleak personal experience is a clear indication of how our ‘Open Economy’ is performing.
Will any of these restaurants ever reopen? To make matters worse, upon my return Sunday, the government had decided to close all local tourism and ban all alcohol sales whether in bottle stores or restaurants once again.
The few businesses who had started to cater for the small but increasing local tourism, would now have to close, never to open. In the towns we drove through, there was no employment other than in tourism and agriculture. One can only imagine the effect these decisions had on people’s lives.
Before I go on a verbal rampage about 100% load capacity in taxis, churches, closed beaches in winter, no cigarettes, lazy teachers and government employees being happy to stay at home on full pay, I rather only say the following. That while Covid 19 is a medical crisis in Europe, Asia and the US, we will have that plus a massive economic disaster for Africa!
Incompetent governments are making matters significantly worse than they should be.
I could end this month’s contribution here since it says it all, but then I need to stay positive? As a leader that is my duty and as an entrepreneur it is crucial. I must see this as an opportunity to get through this crisis stronger. I admit, I struggle with being positive for now.
The hardest part is the total lack of communication from our government about their plans to open and close the economy. No clear plan just incomplete, incoherent and fragmented information. Decisions driven more by ideology then science, together with the severe lack of capacity and skills, causing most South Africans to lose complete confidence in their government.
So how is the team at IBN Immigration Solutions keeping busy. Firstly, we added another office to our 4 existing ones. Our new office in Maputo, Mozambique has officially opened for business and you can read more about the country in this newsletter.
It is inspiring to see we still have a steady flow of enquiries for entry into South Africa and I participated in a webinar on the ‘Status of the border in Africa’. The webinar was hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce.
Department of Home Affairs Director of Immigration, Ronney Marhule, answered a few very interesting questions from attendees.
Please see the link in the newsletter which will allow you to watch the recorded session.
Lastly to conclude, I would like to share a picture Mr. Phil Baker painted in one of his comments on the Daily Maverick, which I find incredibly accurate and therefore want to share here:
“South Africa at the moment feels like an old rickety bus crammed with poor frightened and sick passengers careening down a perilous mountain pass. Vertical ravines either side. The brakes have failed. Swerving at each corner the driver is tired and panic-stricken as the danger to himself and his passengers increases by the minute. Several know-it-all near the front jump in and try to take control. Now, with six hands on the wheel, the bus accelerating out of control, some pulling left, others pulling right each corner barely achieved with only 2 wheels on the road. Everyone is screaming – no one hears or heeds, no one knows how long the winding pass will continue between the ravines before reaches the safety of the plains below. But it is certain that if the driver does not reassert control completely then everyone on board will die horribly. And very soon.” (Phil Baker)
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By Andreas Krensel