Four-year SA per­mit for Ba­sotho

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE South African govern­ment yes­ter­day an­nounced a four-your spe­cial per­mit for Ba­sotho who want to work, study and oparate busi­ness in the neigh­bour­ing coun­try.

The per­mit would be valid from 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2020 and seeks to reg­u­larise the stay of Le­sotho na­tion­als cur­rently re­sid­ing il­le­gally in South Africa, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by Home Affairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba.

Mr Gi­gaba also said ap­pli­ca­tion for the spe­cial doc­u­ment be­gins in Fe­bru­ary next year, adding the de­por­ta­tion of un­doc­u­mented Ba­sotho had been stopped un­til the end of next year.

“In Oc­to­ber 2015, Cab­i­net ap­proved the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Le­sotho Spe­cial Per­mit (LSP). The in­ten­tion of the Le­sotho dis­pen­sa­tion is to reg­u­larise the stay of Le­sotho na­tion­als cur­rently re­sid­ing il­le­gally in South Africa, some with fraud­u­lently ob­tained SA doc­u­ments, and oth­ers abus­ing the visa waiver be­tween our two coun­tries.

“The per­mit will as­sist greatly in en­sur­ing that all per­sons in South Africa are here on a law­ful ba­sis, with cor­rect doc­u­men­ta­tion, while sup­port­ing ef­forts to bet­ter man­age labour flows from SADC states,” said Mr Gi­gaba.

“The spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion is for Le­sotho na­tion­als who are work­ing, study­ing or run­ning busi­nesses in South Africa with­out ap­pro­pri­ate doc­u­men­ta­tion, and have been in the coun­try in such ca­pac­ity be­fore 30 Septem­ber 2015.

“In the long run, this mas­sive pro­ject will ad­vance the goals of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan, pre­cisely be­cause Le­sotho na­tion­als with spe­cial per­mits will work law­fully, pay taxes, and con­trib­ute to the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and growth, as well as that of their coun­try. We trust that the pro­ject will pro­mote greater co­op­er­a­tion on man­ag­ing mi­gra­tion chal­lenges be­tween the two coun­tries.”

The min­is­ter em­pha­sised that the per­mit would pro­tect Ba­sotho from ex­ploita­tion and un­nec­es­sary ha­rass­ment while in South Africa.

“Ba­sotho in the coun­try will en­joy pro­tec­tion from un­law­ful labour prac­tices, fraud and cor­rup­tion,” he said.

“This we owe to the peo­ple of the SADC re­gion and our neigh­bour, Le­sotho, which his­tor­i­cally en­joys close kin­ship ties with South Africa and its peo­ple. It makes no busi­ness sense to sus­tain fund­ing for de­por­ta­tions that can clearly be avoided, with Le­sotho be­ing among the four high­est coun­tries whose na­tion­als South Africa de­ports.”

The spe­cial per­mits would also “ease pres­sure ex­erted on the coun­try’s Refugee Re­cep­tion Of­fices, deal­ing with a mixed flow of mi­grants, in­clud­ing of an eco­nomic na­ture,” Mr Gi­gaba added.

The min­is­ter fur­ther noted: “This ap­proach is, there­fore, help­ing in sep­a­rat­ing eco­nomic mi­grants from asy­lum-seek­ers and refugees. The ben­e­fits should in­clude en­hanced refugee-man­age­ment and refugee-pro­tec­tion.

“Al­ready, we have un­der­taken key ac­tions for op­er­a­tional readi­ness. The LSP pro­ject is led es­sen­tially by the same per­mit­ting team that de­liv­ered the Zim­babwe Spe­cial Per­mit Pro­gramme. Im­por­tantly, this dis­pen­sa­tion is un­der­taken as a joint pro­gramme en­tail­ing co­op­er­a­tion of the South African and Le­sotho gov­ern­ments.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Gi­gaba, in­ter-min­is­te­rial meet­ings on the is­sue took place over the past three months, re­sult­ing in the for­ma­tion of a task-team to over­see the process.

“The Plan­ning and De­sign phase com­menced this month and will end on 31 Jan­uary 2016. The first of Fe­bru­ary 2016 is the tar­geted date for the of­fi­cial com­mence­ment of the LSP Pro­gramme, when we will start re­ceiv­ing ap­pli­ca­tions,” Mr Gi­gaba noted.

“For­mal an­nounce­ments on the vol­umes and process to fol­low will be made once all con­sul­ta­tions with the Le­sotho au­thor­i­ties and rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers have been com­pleted. The spe­cial per­mit will be valid for four years, from 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2020.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Gi­gaba, the de­por­ta­tion of Ba­sotho liv­ing il­le­gally in South Africa had been stopped un­til the end of next year. An amnesty would also be given to Ba­sotho who sur­ren­der their il­le­gally ac­quired South African pass­ports and iden­tity doc­u­ments (IDS).

“To fa­cil­i­tate the smooth im­ple­men­ta­tion of the spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion, we will grant a mora­to­rium on de­por­ta­tions un­til 31 De­cem­ber 2016 to Le­sotho na­tion­als,” the min­is­ter an­nounced.

“How­ever, the mora­to­rium will ex­clude per­sons with neg­a­tive po­lice clear­ance and those who have been re­leased from prison af­ter serv­ing their sen­tences. An amnesty will be granted to Le­sotho na­tion­als who vol­un­tar­ily sur­ren­der fraud­u­lent per­mits or South African pass­ports and IDS.

“I wish to take this op­por­tu­nity to ask Ba­sotho to come for­ward and sur­ren­der th­ese doc­u­ments to avoid im­pris­on­ment, and im­prove their stay in South Africa”.

To qual­ify for the spe­cial per­mit, an ap­pli­cant must have a valid pass­port or travel doc­u­ment; be reg­is­tered on the Le­sotho Na­tional Pop­u­la­tion Reg­is­ter sys­tem; have po­lice clear­ance from Le­sotho and South Africa; pro­vide proof of em­ploy­ment and busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion and reg­is­tra­tion from an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion.

How­ever, the min­is­ter also said the spe­cial per­mit does not grant the holder the right to ap­ply for per­ma­nent res­i­dence.

Women, chil­dren and peo­ple with dis­abil­ity would be as­sisted to ap­ply, he added.

“To­day be­ing the be­gin­ning of the 16 Days of Ac­tivism for No Vi­o­lence Against Women and Chil­dren, un­til 10 De­cem­ber 2015, I in­vite you to be ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in this cam­paign for hu­man rights for all.

“How we treat our peo­ple from Zim­babwe, Le­sotho and else­where in the re­gion and con­ti­nent, es­pe­cially the most vul­ner­a­ble among us — the women and chil­dren — says much about us as a na­tion that cher­ishes democ­racy, equal­ity and jus­tice for all of hu­mankind,” the min­is­ter said.

“Reg­u­lar­is­ing the stay of Zim­bab­wean and Ba­sotho women who of­fer var­i­ous ser­vices in di­verse sec­tors of the econ­omy, does much to ad­vance their pro­tec­tion and en­joy­ment of in­alien­able rights, in­clud­ing the right to life and dig­nity.

It is our goal as a demo­cratic state through laws like the Women Em­pow­er­ment and Gen­der Equal­ity Bill, the Preven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons Act as well as our im­mi­gra­tion laws, to fight un­com­pro­mis­ingly the traf­fick­ing of young girls and women. To­gether we can end the cy­cle of abuse in all its forms.”

Com­ment­ing on the spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion, the Vice-consul of Le­sotho in Jo­han­nes­burg, Tu­misang Mokoai, said the move was “a mile­stone for Le­sotho” and needed to be em­braced “with grat­i­tude”.

“This is too good to be true, and we ap­peal to all our peo­ple to go the le­git­i­mate route and do the right thing. They should ren­der the il­le­gal doc­u­ments as asked by the min­is­ter and take this as a se­cond chance to start over their lives,” Mr Mokoai said.

In the long run, this mas­sive pro­ject will ad­vance the goals of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan, pre­cisely be­cause Le­sotho na­tion­als with spe­cial per­mits will work law­fully, pay taxes, and con­trib­ute to the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and growth, as well as that of their coun­try. We trust that the pro­ject will pro­mote greater co­op­er­a­tion on man­ag­ing mi­gra­tion chal­lenges be­tween the two coun­tries

South African Home Affairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba

SOUTH African Home Affairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba (left) and his Le­sotho coun­ter­part Lekhetho Rakuoane in Maseru in Septem­ber this year.

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