South African Home Affairs Extends COVID-19 Visa Regime Until End-October

Lynn Mackenzie, J.D., LLM
Courtesy of Linda Ensor

The special permit and visa dispensation introduced to address the difficulties arising from the Covid-19 lockdown has been extended to end-October, home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced recently.

The dispensation, which allowed for people to continue staying legally in SA despite the expiry of their visas and permits, was due to expire at end-July. It was introduced because the lock-down prevented the movement of people to renew their visas and permits and also because visa offices were closed.

Motsoaledi announced the extension in his budget vote speech in the National Assembly. He said regulations providing for it would be promulgated soon and definitely before the end of July. He noted that the Covid-19 situation had not changed much.

Motsoaledi also called on parliament to address the question of whether the local government elections should be held on the same day as the national and provincial elections. Political parties must decide on this issue and “the sooner the better”, he said.

He noted that the Independent Electoral Commission had established addresses for 24-million (90,5%) of the more than 26-million registered voters on the voters’ roll. “This is a phenomenal improvement given that in 2016 when we went into the local government election only 8.6-million complete addresses were present on the voters’ roll.”

The obligation to secure addresses for voters was a consequence of a Constitutional Court ruling. The minister gave the assurance that the 1.2-million voters now without an address would not be deprived of the right to vote. An amendment to the Electoral Act would be introduced to provide for a valid voting mechanism for these voters. It would give the voting station as their address just before voting.

Motsoaledi also gave the assurance that the ruling ANC would honor the Constitutional Court ruling that the electoral system must be changed to allow independent candidates to stand for election. He said the amendment to the electoral system would afford an opportunity to cure all the ills in the electoral regime.

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