Gup­tas’ cit­i­zen­ship ‘breaches SA rules’

Im­mi­gra­tion law ex­perts claim Gi­gaba acted un­law­fully

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - DO­MINIC ADRI­AANSE

IM­MI­GRA­TION ex­perts have slammed Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba’s de­ci­sion to grant cit­i­zen­ship to the Gupta fam­ily while he was home af­fairs min­is­ter.

This comes af­ter the EFF re­leased what it be­lieved was proof that Gi­gaba had flouted the coun­try’s im­mi­gra­tion laws to ac­com­mo­date the fam­ily.

Yes­ter­day, spokesper­son May­ihlome Tsh­wete said the min­is­ter had acted in the same man­ner in the is­su­ing of cer­tifi­cates of nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion to sport per­son­al­i­ties and other for­eign in­vestors, hav­ing sug­gested the same be ap­plied for Brics (Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China, South Africa) in­vestor part­ners.

Tsh­wete con­firmed the le­git­i­macy of the doc­u­ments in pos­ses­sion of the EFF and said grant­ing of nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion cer­tifi­cates was not un­usual. He main­tained there was no flout­ing of the laws.

He said the ap­pli­ca­tion process be­gan long be­fore the con­tro­versy sur­round­ing the fam­ily started.

Im­mi­gra­tion ex­perts are baf­fled by Gi­gaba’s ex­pla­na­tion.

Pro­fes­sional im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney Craig Smith said: “The min­is­ter per his own reg­u­la­tions breaches the reg­u­la­tion which re­quires one to hold per­ma­nent res­i­dence for 10 years.

“Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­men­ta­tion, they held per­ma­nent res­i­dence for less than that. You can­not be a na­tional from another coun­try that pro­hibits dual na­tion­al­ity un­less you have re­voked your ex­ist­ing na­tion­al­ity,” said Smith.

He ques­tioned whether the fam­ily had done so as In­dia does not al­low it.

“His only power per­tains to deal­ing with a dis­cre­tion on or­di­nary res­i­dence and be­ing out of the coun­try.

“He has, in my view, acted un­law­fully in grant­ing the Gup­tas cit­i­zen­ship.”

Gary Eisen­berg, who is con­sid­ered South Africa’s pre-em­i­nent im­mi­gra­tion lawyer, said: “When a per­son ap­plies for dis­pen­sa­tion, in ef­fect they ap­ply to the min­is­ter who due to his du­ties del­e­gates this re­spon­si­bil­ity to se­nior of­fi­cials in the depart­ment. There­fore, he in ef­fect is re­ject­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion. There ex­ists no higher author­ity, thus to whom did the Gupta fam­ily ap­peal?”

He said he doubted the at­ti­tude of the op­po­si­tion par­ties to­wards the Gup­tas would have re­sulted in the con­tro­versy.

In a state­ment, Tsh­wete said it was un­for­tu­nate that the fo­cus of the na­tion has been di­verted to­wards “spu­ri­ous sideshows” when it was faced with eco­nomic chal­lenges.

“The Gupta fam­ily have been per­ma­nent res­i­dents in South Africa since 2008. They ap­pealed the ini­tial re­jec­tion, which they are en­ti­tled to do, and the min­is­ter ex­er­cised his dis­cre­tion in award­ing the cer­tifi­cates of nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion due to ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances,” said Tsh­wete.

He said Gi­gaba has re­quested the Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs to pro­vide the me­dia with the Gupta fam­ily’s mo­ti­va­tion for their ap­pli­ca­tion and any other is­sue re­lated to the mat­ter.

‘FLOUTED STATUTE’: Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba

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