SA mulls per­mits re­view

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

Le­sotho and south African home Af­fairs of­fi­cials met in Maseru yes­ter­day to dis­cuss Le­sotho Spe­cial Per­mits (LSP) whose ap­pli­ca­tion opened on 1 March this year.

The per­mits would al­low Ba­sotho to work, study, and do busi­ness in South Africa from 30 June 2016 to 30 April 2020.

To qual­ify for the per­mits, ap­pli­cants must have a valid pass­port, be reg­is­tered on the Le­sotho Na­tional Pop­u­la­tion Regis­ter sys­tem, have po­lice clear­ance from Le­sotho and South Africa, and pro­vide proof of em­ploy­ment, busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion and ad­mis­sion from an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion.

How­ever, de­spite its good in­ten­tions, Ba­sotho have not ap­plied for the spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion in droves as ex­pected, with many com­plain­ing they can­not af­ford the M970 they have to pay for the per­mit, while oth­ers have com­plained about the on­line method of ap­pli­ca­tion. These chal­lenges were among the is­sues dis­cussed in yes­ter­day’s closed­door meet­ing led by Home Af­fairs Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Bore­na­habokhe the Sekonyela and South Africa’s Home Af­fairs Di­rec­tor-gen­eral Mkhuseli Apleni.

Only 18 000 peo­ple have ap­plied for the LSP out of an es­ti­mated 500 000 Ba­sotho who were ex­pected to seek the per­mits.

Of­fi­cials who at­tended yes­ter­day’s meet­ing were tightlipped over their dis­cus­sions, in­sist­ing they needed to ta­ble the de­lib­er­a­tions and rec­om­men­da­tions be­fore their re­spec­tive min­is­ters first.

But ac­cord­ing to sources who at­tended the meet­ing, the two par­ties agreed to rec­om­mend the re­moval of bank state­ments and tax-clear­ance cer­tifi­cates from the list of doc­u­ments re­quired from those op­er­at­ing busi­nesses.

The par­ties are also said to have agreed to ac­cept man­ual ap­pli­ca­tions, in ad­di­tion to on­line sub­mis­sions.

“The meet­ing ac­knowl­edged that on­line reg­is­tra­tions are a prob­lem for some ap­pli­cants be­cause they don’t have ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy and the in­ter­net.

“How­ever, the tech­ni­cal team from Le­sotho and South Africa, which is jointly work­ing on this is­sue ex­pects to meet the two min­is­ters — Ad­vo­cate Lekhetho Rakuoane and Malusi Gi­gaba — next week to seek their ap­proval on the amend­ments pro­posed to­day,” one of the sources told the Le­sotho Times af­ter the meet­ing

Ad­dress­ing the me­dia af­ter the meet­ing, Ad­vo­cate Sekonyela ac­knowl­edged the chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with the cur­rent re­quire­ments for the LSP, but urged Ba­sotho to make sure of this op­por­tu­nity as the dead­line for ap­pli­ca­tions is 30 June 2016.

“The pur­pose of to­day’s visit by South African Home Af­fairs of­fi­cials was for us to re­view the LSP ap­pli­ca­tion process jointly,” Ad­vo­cate Sekonyela said.

“The LSP is a very im­por­tant pro­ject for Ba­sotho who have been suf­fer­ing for a long time be­cause they did not have the nec­es­sary doc­u­ments to be in South Africa.

“Ba­sotho were go­ing through so much suf­fer­ing but could not re­port what­ever was hap­pen­ing to them to the au­thor­i­ties be­cause they didn’t have the re­quired pa­pers.”

He urged Ba­sotho to ap­ply for the per­mits, reit­er­at­ing they would not be pros­e­cuted for stay­ing in South Africa il­le­gally un­til 31 De­cem­ber 2016.

Ad­vo­cate Sekonyela also ac­knowl­edged some of the chal­lenges faced by po­ten­tial ap­pli­cants such as first hav­ing to come to Le­sotho to ap­ply for a birth cer­tifi­cate, ID and pass­port first.

To ad­dress this prob­lem, Ad­vo­cate Sekonyela said his min­istry was con­sid­er­ing es­tab­lish­ing mo­bile reg­is­tra­tion units in South Africa where Ba­sotho can ob­tain these doc­u­ments.

Ad­vo­cate Sekonyela fur­ther said of­fi­cials from min­istries of Home Af­fairs and For­eign Af­fairs were set to meet on Mon­day next week to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of Le­sotho con­sulates in South Africa is­su­ing the iden­tity doc­u­ments.

How­ever, Ad­vo­cate Sekonyela re­fused to share the joint tech­ni­cal com­mit­tees’ rec­om­men­da­tions with the me­dia, say­ing these could only be re­vealed by the two min­is­ters once they have stud­ied them and made a fi­nal de­ci­sion.

On his part, Mr Apleni said it was cause for con­cern that Ba­sotho were re­luc­tant to ap­ply for the LSP.

“We had some es­ti­ma­tions that there are about 500 000 Ba­sotho stay­ing in South Africa but only 18 000 LSP ap­pli­ca­tions have been re­ceived so far,” Mr Apleni said.

He also ac­knowl­edged on­line reg­is­tra­tions pre­sented chal­lenges “be­cause of the ge­o­graph­i­cal spread of South Africa”, which he said made it hard for some Ba­sotho to ac­cess the in­ter­net.

Mr Apleni added these were some of the is­sues yes­ter­day’s meet­ing tried to un­der­stand and make rec­om­men­da­tions on to the min­is­ters con­cerned.

He fur­ther said trav­el­ling three times to Le­sotho to ap­ply for IDS in or­der to get a pass­port might be a stum­bling block for LSP ap­pli­cants hence the slow up­take of the per­mits.

“We will now take the rec­om­men­da­tions to our prin­ci­pals. They will look at them, and once they have ap­proved them, they will make the nec­es­sary an­nounce­ment,” he said.

The ul­ti­mate goal, he said, was for Ba­sotho to have the per­mits and reg­u­lar­ize their stay in South Africa.

“There is ur­gent need to re­move any stum­bling blocks in the LSP ap­pli­ca­tion process.

“I think it is also im­por­tant for us to men­tion that at times, peo­ple are re­luc­tant to ap­ply for such per­mits, sus­pect­ing they could be a trap.

“But I want to as­sure all Ba­sotho that the two gov­ern­ments in­tro­duced the LSP for the ben­e­fit of both coun­tries. There is no hid­den agenda in their in­tro­duc­tion,” he said.

HOME Af­fairs PS Bore­na­habokhethe Seknyela

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