This month I will share some very important updates on new legislation in South Africa, submit two ideas with big impact on a lot of our clients and update you on new developments at IBN.
Let’s start this month’s letter with the weather. It has been an incredibly cold, wet, and abnormally long winter in the Cape. People older than 40 say that this has been the first proper winter in 20 years, but I can tell you, after 22 years living in Cape Town, this winter was more than enough.
We still have 10-degree weather in September, our firewood is empty, and the country is looking forward to warmer temperatures. I’d skip any wine from this year, and rather buy 2021 or 2022 vintages, given the bleak climate of 2023!
Civil Unrest and Safety
After 5 days of violence, I was very glad when the taxi strikes in Cape Town came to an end. We were close to civil unrest. In these situations, one realises how fragile South Africa’s society is, something easy to forget in our self-created bubbles.
When your staff can’t come to work, not just because there are no taxis, but to actively avoid being shot at, then you begin to appreciate functioning state institutions.
To see how quickly the food supply chains collapses was eye opening, especially Woolworth’s empty shelfs after 3 days; Spar and Checkers seemed to have longer shelf-life items. The right to strike is protected in South Africa, but the sheer violence, connected deaths, and destruction of property are not.
The desperate need for public transport alternatives was brutally illustrated in August.
Improvements by the DHA
Several of our clients have received confirmation of assets requests for their pending PR applications based on financial independence; several applications were adjudicated and approved. They are working on the backlog, and we should always give praise when it is due, so well done to the DHA!
Change in DHA Feedback
However, where the Department of Home Affairs has thrown a potential spanner in the works, is with sending client feedback. The DHA has advised that they will no longer respond to enquiries from companies and law firms, such as ours, making follow-ups on behalf of our clients. We will continue to engage with them, and plan a way forward to continue our high standard of clear communication with our clients.
I do foresee an important change in the near future – the introduction of an official minimum age for the retired visa category in South Africa. Although, under current legislation, there is no minimum age; some missions such as Berlin, Munich, and Zurich usually require an age close to “retirement” for the application to be successful.
I am sure that very soon we might see the introduction of this requirement. Thus, applicants under 60 years of age – you might want to apply sooner rather than later in this category.
Digital Nomad Delays
We still have not heard anything concrete on the digital nomad visa. What I do know, is that the Office of the President is very seriously trying to implement all recommendations from the Operation Vulindlela report.
The introduction of the minimum retirement age is one, and the abolishment of the radiological report and police clearances is already implemented.
This would mean an introduction of the digital nomad, but also of a start-up visa soon. I do know that the drafting work on a start-up visa has started, but nothing concrete can be shared now. The industry would rather have a “scale-up” visa, enabling local start-ups to scale up fast, but I think we may only see a slimmed down own business visa path leading to the start-up visa.
We will keep you updated, but at least there is some pressure on implementing the recommendations.
Another concession needs to be introduced to help foreigners with pending applications. The massive backlog for temporary residence has not been solved at all. A concession must be issued, but this time also including short term visitor visa. This would be important to cover pending 11.2 applications and remove the travel uncertainty.
I suggest a useful idea for the DHA to reduce their massive case backlog: introduce an option at VFS to cancel one’s pending application. Currently there is no such option. For some applicants, due to the long processing times, they might not need the outcome of a submitted application anymore. Why this has not been introduced is not clear to me: it would lighten the burden on pending cases considerably and VFS could even earn another (small one, please) fee.
Additionally, where is the spousal visa support? Lack of adjudication, spouses waiting years for outcomes; this is simply unfair, unconstitutional, and unacceptable. Much like before, with the backlog, we need a public outcry on this. Families are now going years deprived of income, with less than an acknowledgement from the DHA.
Sending Our Support
I want to send my thoughts and support to the people of Morocco following the earthquake that struck their nation. One of our clients, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), is already helping those affected by this disaster, and we urge our readers to donate to help our Moroccan brothers and sisters.
We also keep Libya in our thoughts this month, as thousands of lives were lost due to flooding. Such natural disasters are terrible tragedies, but also reminders as to how well people of this world can come together to help each other through strife and suffering.
Signing Staff Unsuccessfully
Lastly, since when are signed agreements not worth the paper they are written on anymore?
During the past 8 months, we had on two occasions a signed letter of employment with future staff, who last minute cancelled their appointment. Is this a new thing? Honestly, it would be great to hear our reader’s feedback.
Does under 30-year-olds want to live in a world in which one does not rely on signed agreements anymore? Maybe this is all naïve and wishful thinking from my side, and I’m getting too old for this. I was already informed by our marketing team that the one CEO edition written by our Head of Client Acquisition, Kristin Rasool, got great opening stats and engagement.
We did, however, finally fill the position we wanted to fill. Our super trusted ex-employee Melissa Moses is re-joining us at the end of September after one year of absence from the industry. Finance was a bit too boring for her, and her returning is a great win for us and our clients.
Our next edition of the newsletter will be coming out at the end of October, and then our final edition for this year will be early December.
I hope you find the rest of the August/September newsletter edition useful and enjoyable.
Written by Andreas Krensel, Managing Director
Edited by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor