Letter to the Editor
As is the case in every instance and in every government department, this government fails to see opportunities that stare themselves in their face. This includes “easy wins” where South Africa as a country can benefit maximally, with minimal input on our side. An example of this is to ensure that applications for various visas are processed as speedily and as effortlessly as possible.
I was thus not surprise to receive replies to official questions I submitted to the Minister of Home Affairs that demonstrates yet another lost opportunity. Just like applications for tourism visas, retirement visa applications allow retired persons who are financially stable to reside on South African at certain period of times, or even permanently. These individuals, who enjoy their retirement years with strong currencies such as the Euro and the Dollar, are able to spend time in South Africa which has a currency which is incredibly profitable for them. This in turn means that they are able to easily contribute to our economy with minimal financial personal burden to them but maximum return for our economy. In turn, such retirees take advantage of the Rand by renting accommodation, hiring vehicles, enjoying extensive touring, spending on regular wining and dining and shopping.
So SA is indeed an attractive place for retirement for many retired foreigners who spend locally without being a treat such as competing for jobs. In addition, we have a beautiful country, ideal weather and friendly people. As mentioned previously, our currency is very favourable for retirees from Europe, North America and other parts of the world.
However, the fact that Home Affairs does not have its house in order and that it takes an average of 12 months for retirement visas (as indicated in the Minister’s replies to my questions) to be approved discourages such people from retiring in South Africa.
On average, such retirees have substantial funds to emigrate to South Africa and have significant spending power which can only benefit South Africa and its economy. This is yet another example of how this government is losing excellent opportunities to gain in this regard, but choose to view such applications with suspicion.
Clearly, there must be verification checks to ensure that desirable applicants are approved, however it is unacceptable that applications are rejected because forms are incomplete or filled in incorrectly – again indicated in replies by the Minister. This shows that there is no attempt by Home Affairs to assist applicants to complete required forms and processes correctly as we should be welcoming such applicants with open arms.
As you can see, this is yet another example that demonstrates a lack of vision by government with a goal to improve and grow our economy. Based on the replies to my questions, in the last 3 financial years and this year to date (from 1 April 2023), we have lost 499 opportunities, which potentially translates into at least a loss of just under R18 500 000,00 per month, or over R221 500 000,00 annually.
This is just one example that we need a change in government in the 2024 Elections so that we can harness such opportunities that will directly contribute positively to our lagging economy.
Kind regards/ Beste wense/ Ozithobileyo/ Melhores cumprimentos,
Manny de Freitas MP
Member of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
Shadow Minister of Tourism
Chair: Johannesburg Region
Member of Parliament for Johannesburg South