South Africa's Visa Crisis: Implementation of the Immigration Advisory Board

Why is the Minister of Home Affairs refusing to appoint the Immigration Advisory Board (IAB)?
Despite an ongoing visa administrative crisis injuring an already crippled economy, the man tasked with resolving the mess apparently sees no need to implement the law and set up the Immigration Advisory Board – a body that would immediately help resolve the current shambles.

As such the Minister may be in contempt of the very Act he is mandated to oversee, the Immigration Act, which makes provision for the Advisory Board as a matter of necessity.  The Board has not been constituted in over ten years. It is supposed to provide the kind of oversight and expertise that could have prevented the administrative meltdown currently undermining economic growth.

Not only is the Minister failing at his job, he is costing the country thousands of other jobs that could be created if only immigration services were an asset and not a massive national liability.

The Immigration Act makes provision for an Immigration Advisory Board that must include a representative of organised business, of organised labour, and up to five other people experienced in immigration law, to serve alongside various top-tier government officials. Such a Board is an essential ingredient in an area of public service that has the potential to make or break our shared ambition of prosperity.

It is neither an onerous nor complicated process to set up a Board. So why then has the Minister failed to do so?  Even the recent White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration and Refugee Protection, calls for the Board to be established: “The (immigration) policy framework must provide for the establishment of the Advisory Board,” said the selfsame Minister in a press release following Cabinet approval of the White Paper in November last year.   

But there is still no sign of the Board.  And several of the country’s top immigration experts say there has been no sign of it – neither a call to apply, nor notification of intent to do so.

Failure to set up the Board defies logic, unless, as one top immigration lawyer suggests, “you wish to just take your own decisions without anyone looking over your shoulder”. Minister Aaron Motsoaledi urgently needs to constitute the Immigration Advisory Board or explain why he is refusing to do so.  

Jacques Moolman
President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry