Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Gary Eisenberg
Eisenberg & Associates

South Africa’s immigration system is under attack. Its political environment is beginning to swirl into uncertainty as the leader elect of the African National Congress, South Africa’s controlling political party, Jacob Zuma may see his chances to succeed Thabo Mbeki as President of the country destroyed by a conviction on charges of corruption. Past charges of corruption and rape have dissipated after unsuccessful repeated efforts of the State to prosecute him.

The Minister of Home Affairs herself, N. Mapisa-Nqakula, is a captain standing with her hands behind her back whistling a silent song behind the wheel of a sinking ship. She looks into the distance understanding that she will be displaced in April 2009 elections. The Minister’s Immigration Amendment Bill which had as its principal purpose the refinement and correction of the current Immigration Act has been wallowing in dust and neglect at Parliament for the past two years without more. Current immigration legislation currently hobbles along waiting for a cure.

No matter the substance of South Africa’s immigration law, delivery systems within the Department of Home Affairs are dying or have collapsed. Mavuso Msimang, installed as Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs one year ago, has thus far achieved nothing to stem the tide. While Msimang is a man of exceptional bearing and ability in the parastatal world, his ability to take charge of the Department’s 70,000 personnel scattered throughout South Africa and the world, has simply dissipated into smoke. Msimang simply does not have a management team capable and large enough to make any difference. The level of ineptness and corruption within the Department remain at an all-time high, historically unprecedented.

Despite this malaise, Eisenberg & Associates is busier attending to the immigration requirements of foreigners than ever before in its history. It appears that South Africa continues to draw foreigners, for pleasure and business alike. The World Cup scheduled to take place in 2010 is the horizon for investors, and those foreigners in the construction and engineering fields encouraged to participate in the development schemes in support of World Cup developments (transportation infrastructure, stadiums and housing). The Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape Provinces continue to attract foreigners into its coastal areas like never before. There seems to be a palpable heartbeat emerging from all of this, like an African drum, beckoning the return of South African émigrés and the inflow of foreigners, as well as refugee seekers, swelling South Africa’s population beyond the limits of any governmental vision adopted a decade ago.