International Travel Provision Made for South Africans

Courtesy of Lynn Mackenzie, J.D., LLM

South Africans, under strict regulations, may now embark on International Travel. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirmed on May 23rd 2020, that such international travel is only permitted for the following purposes;

  1. Work
  2. Study
  3. Family reunion
  4. Take up permanent residency
  5. Receive medical attention

In order for South Africans to be approved for international travel, they must satisfy the following requirements;

  • A copy of a valid South African passport;
  • A letter from the country you will be travelling to confirming your admissibility, permission for transiting countries
  • Proof of means of travel and the intended date of departure.

Furthermore, should a group require international travel approval, one Department of Home Affairs application can be utilized, however supporting documentation must be submitted for each member of the group.

Currently, the approval process is unclear, however the expectation reins that the usual DHA processing protocols would be adhered to.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

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Opinion: Covid-19 to Heat Up Battle of the Banks

Victor Mupunga is a a research analyst at Old Mutual Wealth Private Client Securities.

The fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic will see the battle of the banks intensify, as both legacy and challenger financial institutions race to use tech innovation to gain a competitive advantage in 2020/2021.

To some extent, history may be repeating itself, as the financial pressure exerted by the pandemic forces bank management teams to pursue cost discipline while attempting to meet ever expanding customer expectations. 

As in 2008 following the global financial crisis, all banks will feel the pressure as a result of Covid-19.

They will be negatively impacted by the drop in the interest rates and declining business and consumer economic prospects. However, innovative banks that can harness their ability to use technology to cut costs and meet customers’ changing needs are likely to navigate the current crisis much better.

Banks already spend more than most industries on technology. 

Take the US for example where over the past few years, banks have been spending around $150 billion (R2.6 trillion) a year on technology.  The cost savings in doing so are significant – it costs Bank of America about $5 to process a cheque within a physical branch, $0.50 at an ATM and S$0.05 via a mobile app.

The Covid-19 pandemic may favour legacy banks with deep pockets and more substantial cash reserves to invest in technology.

Locally, each of the big four banks (FirstRand, Standard Bank, Absa and Nedbank have steadily increased their annual IT expenditure over the past five years, with IT now making up an average of 21 percent of total expenses versus the global average of 18.

While a portion of this expenditure is to maintain the banks’ current IT systems, a growing share is to better position them against the fierce competition that has emerged from challenger banks. 

On the other hand, analysts have predicted that the Covid-19 pandemic will change consumer behaviour in profound ways. 

Challenger banks have been known for their lean business models and agility to respond to customer needs.

While these banks don’t generally offer the full range of complex products provided by traditional incumbents, their ability to address consumers’ precise pain points has led to them rapidly gaining customers globally.

Despite the commendable exploits of legacy banks, there may be a limit to how much these financial institutions can do relative to new entrants.

The critical inhibitor is often their core banking technology infrastructure, which was built decades ago and tends to operate in product silos. Often, making core system overhauls, which are easy for challenger banks, is too risky, too expensive and almost impossible without any downtime. Because of this, most legacy banks will have to be content with gradual improvements to their clients’ digital experience.

However, the sheer number of challenger banks in the market also presents a problem for the sector. 

I would say that globally there are probably too many new banks coming into the market and there isn’t enough space for all of them, even before the pandemic unfolded.

A decade ago, global banks were solely focused on how they would recover from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Today, they compete against new entrants and need to innovate their legacy businesses to meet their customers’ ever-changing needs.

While reducing costs to streamline operations is always laudable, the old adage “you can’t cost-cut your way to prosperity” comes to mind.  Innovative banks that strategically position their business models to compete with both legacy and challenger bank will be the winners over the next decade.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Western Cape Remains the South African Province Most Affected by COVID-19

The Western Cape remains the country’s worst affected province, with over 20 000 cases making it by far the province in most urgent need of monitoring, especially as the country collectively moves into Alert Level 3 Lockdown measures (the transition for which began on 1 June).

Heath Minister Zweli Mkhize arrived in Cape Town on Monday 1 June along with the new Director General (DG) of the Department of Health, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, to discuss the ailing province’s success in stemming its rapidly increasing COVID-19 infection rate. 

Buthelezi was appointed DG on, and enters the political arena at a time when his department is under constant pressure to keep tabs on the successes of intervention strategies across the country.

CTICC Field Hospital Up and Running

Mkihize and his new colleague linked up with Premier Alan Winde and provincial health officials to discuss the province’s response to their hotspot areas, with the majority of the country’s hotspots found in the Western Cape. 

The Health department duo were led on a tour of the newly established field hospital at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) where Mkhize said 862 beds are ready to be utilised when necessary.

The field hospital will be able to accommodate those with mild cases of COVID-19 but who may require hospitalisation, and is one of five such facilities erected in the province in the last month. 

The Thusong Centre in Khayelitsha is another such site, and is situated in one of the province’s worst hit hotspots, where social distancing is challenging as a result of dire congestion. 

Two Thirds of Positive Cases in the Western Cape

The Western Cape now has 21 382 positive cases of COVID-19, and 503 people have lost their lives to the virus in the province. 

A total of 11 099 people have successfully recovered from the virus. 

Mkhize will be hoping that his new colleague, Buthelezi, will be able to assist him in providing support to the ailing province. 

Buthelezi was formerly thecvief director in the Department of Health in KZN, and will now take command as the accounting officer in the department of health. 

“Dr Buthelezi is an experienced leader in health management, starting when he was superintendent of Nkandla Hospital, then at Grey’s Hospital and going on to become a chief director in the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal on  HIV and maternal and child health programmes,” said Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo upon the confirmation of Buthelezi’s appointment. 

“We are looking forward to reaping the benefit of his experience in other areas he has worked in and to take the department to greater heights. We congratulate the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize for identifying Dr Buthelezi at this stage to lead the department under these challenging circumstances.”

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

South African Shoppers Stock Up On Liquor As Sales Resume

South African shoppers filled trolleys with cases of beer and cider and bottles of whiskey and wine on Monday as the government eased the coronavirus lockdown to allow the sale of alcohol to resume after a nine-week ban.

South Africa, which has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption per capita in the world, banned the sale of liquor in late March to ease hospital workloads and prevent a rise in domestic violence related to alcohol abuse during lockdown.

Under looser restrictions, alcohol will be sold for home consumption from Mondays to Thursdays, a welcome relief for an industry on its knees due to the ban.

“There is a significant amount of profit lost, we were losing turnover every day,” Jimmy Constantinou, who has been managing a liquor store in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township for six years, told Reuters inside the busy store.

“It’s obviously good that we’re open again but in terms of business it’s going to take a while to get there.”

An estimated 117,600 jobs have been lost in the industry, with 13-percent of the craft beer sector in the process of shutting, while the wine industry was in severe distress, said Rico Basson, chief executive of Vinpro, a wine industry body.

A few kilometres from the township, more than 100 people snaked around the parking lot of Makro Liquor, owned by Massmart, with bottle store owners loading cases of beer and cider onto pick-up trunks.

Software developer Teboho Mofokeng waited in the queue for more than two hours for his six bottles of whiskey, saying his alcohol stock ran out during lockdown.

“I’ve been without liquor for some time now,” he said. “I’m over-excited and relieved.”

Retailers like Pick n Pay and Shoprite’s Checkers supermarket chain, had allowed customers to place pre-orders online for delivery from Monday.

Some retailers placed limits on purchases, with Checkers limiting online orders to 120 litres per order.

Online alcohol stores and delivery apps were dealing with high volumes of orders after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement to further reopen the economy.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].



South African Home Affairs Approves Essential Travel for South Africans Who Want to Return to Countries Where They Are Based

The Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has, following consultations with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the National Coronavirus Command Council, approved essential travel for South Africans who want to return to countries where they are based. South Africans who wish to leave the Republic are permitted to depart only for the following reasons: 

  1. Work
  2. Study
  3. Family reunion
  4. Take up permanent residency
  5. Receive medical attention

South Africa, like many countries in the world, has implemented travel restrictions as part of the measures put in place to fight the spread of Covid-19. Travel between countries is allowed in special circumstances. South Africans wishing to return to the countries where they reside should have the following:

  1. A copy of their valid South African passport
  2. A letter confirming their admissibility under the current circumstances from the embassy or other diplomatic/consular representative of the country they want to travel to.
  3. If returning by road or connecting via flights, the proof submitted needs to include permission from each transiting country.
  4. Proof of means of travel such as air or bus tickets and the intended date of departure.

South Africans who fall in these categories and satisfy the criteria can send an email to Covid19travel@dha.gov.za. An email will be sent to travelers who meet the criteria to enable them to proceed with their travel arrangements. People applying as a group can send one email with the supporting documents for each member of the group. For public enquiries, call 0800 60 11 90.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].