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More Travelers Allowed to Visit South Africa: List of High-risk Countries Revised

There’s an average of 335 investors per day applying to visit South Africa, ‘sending a strong message that South Africa remains an attractive investment destination’.

The government on Monday issued a revised list of what it deems “high-risk countries”, based on a risk categorization model, in light of the current pandemic.  The list is compiled by ministers of health, home affairs and tourism, and was done in a way that “strikes a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods”. 

No changes were made to travel in Africa. The only people from high-risk countries who are able to visit South Africa at the moment are those travelling for business, those that hold critical skills visas, investors, and those from sports, arts, culture and science international missions. 

Travelers from select European countries who usually visit South Africa in the summer to escape cold winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, many of whom own property, will also be allowed to visit South Africa.  However, this is subject to a three-month visitation period or longer, and Covid-19 protocols. 

Those seeking permission to travel to South Africa must email their requests, and provide a copy of their passport and temporary residence visa, proof of business activities to be undertaken, proof of travel itinerary and proof of address or accommodation. 

The email address that has been in operation has in the last two weeks received 4,701 applications. So far, 3,113 have been approved.  This amounts to an average of 335 investors per day applying to visit South Africa, “sending a strong message that South Africa remains an attractive investment destination”.  As such, capacity to manage the email account has been increased. 

Here is the latest list of high-risk countries still not allowed to travel to South Africa for leisure travel: 

  • Argentina
  • Germany
  • Peru
  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Philippines
  • Belgium
  • Indonesia
  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • Iran
  • Spain
  • Canada
  • Iraq
  • United Kingdom
  • Chile
  • Italy
  • USA
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • France
  • Netherlands

 

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].

President Ramaphosa Urges South Africans to Use the COVID-19 Contact Tracing App. Here’s How it Works

On Wednesday, president Cyril Ramaphosa urged South Africans to use government’s new coronavirus contact-tracing app, which was launched earlier this month.

“I want to make a call this evening to everyone who has a smartphone in South Africa to download the COVID Alert mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store,” Ramaphosa said during his address to the nation. The app has been zero-rated by mobile networks, so you can download it without any data costs.”

Using Bluetooth technology, the app will alert any user if they have been in close contact with any other user who has tested positive for coronavirus in the past 14 days.
“Contact tracing  is an important preventative measure to protect yourself and your close family and friends,” Ramaphosa said, as he announced details about South Africa’s progress to Level 1 on midnight, Sunday.

This will include the opening up of borders to foreign tourists from countries that don’t have high infection rates. These travellers will be asked to install the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app on arrival, Ramaphosa said.

The COVID Alert SA app is available for Android devices on the Google Play store and on the Apple App Store for iPhones, with the South African National Department of Health as publisher.

The small app, 2.1MB on Android phones and 5MB on iOS, promises to anonymously keep track of your contact with everyone else using it over a two-week period, the upper end of the incubation period for Sars-CoV-2. If a user discloses they have tested positive for the coronavirus, everyone in that contact list is notified.

The app uses the exposure notification framework created by Google and Apple for use during the pandemic. “By downloading and using the COVID Alert SA app, you become a part of a powerful digital network of app users who choose to work together for the benefit of everyone in the app community while all enjoying complete privacy and anonymity,” the department of health promises.

“App users understand their exposure to Covid-19 and help others to do the same. We can all work together to curb the spread of Covid-19 and, ultimately, to save lives.” The app is free, and uses only a small amount of data every day to check in with a central server. But it requires the power-hungry Bluetooth radio to be turned on, which makes for some battery drain.

COVID Alert SA does not record your name or location. Instead, every device is assigned a unique code. Using Bluetooth, it shares that code with other phones running the app when the come into range, and records the signal strength (a rough proxy for how close another person is) and date for any such contact.

The range of Bluetooth transmission can vary wildly depending on a range of factors, but is around 10 metres as a rule of thumb. Anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus must type in a PIN number the department of health sends by SMS as part of the notification system for Covid-19 tests.

That triggers alerts other people who were in close proximity, without disclosing the identity of the infected person or any other details. In such a case “[a]pp users are guided as to what to do next to optimise their wellbeing and prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus to others,” says the department of health.

The usefulness of the app will depend on how many people install it, whether they keep their Bluetooth radios turned on, and how quickly they report positive test results.

To track the virus’ stats, visit the Bing live COVID map here.

Let’s all work together to flatten the curve of COVID in South Africa.

 

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].

Warning Over Government’s Plans to Change South Africa’s Emigration Finance Rules

A number of tax and financial groups have issued warnings over a new draft bill which will introduce changes for South Africans looking to take their retirement funds out of the country.

Under the current system, members of preservation funds and retirement annuity funds may withdraw from such funds if they formally emigrate from South Africa for exchange control purposes and their emigration is approved by the South African Reserve Bank

However, changes in the draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB) will effectively phase out the concept of emigration for exchange control purposes.

The amendment will mean that South Africans emigrating from the country will only be able to make a withdrawal when a retirement fund member has ceased to be an tax resident and has remained so for a consecutive period of at least three years.

The change has come under fire as the TLAB was the subject of public hearings in parliament on Wednesday (7 October).

Impractical and draconian

“The proposed requirement that an individual be non-resident for a period of three years prior to being entitled to access retirement funds is impractical, draconian and will present administrative difficulties for both SARS and taxpayers,” said professional services firm PwC in its submission.

The firm said that where an individual permanently departs from South Africa, the proposed rules could – depending on the particular circumstances of that individual – result in considerable financial hardship for an extended period of time before retirement funds are available.

“Under the current rules, a person who emigrates is entitled to withdraw their retirement funds immediately. Under the proposed rules, they would now need to wait for at least three years before being able to do so,” the firm said.

“Retirement funds are frequently required by emigrants to make emigration financially viable and the proposed rules will severely impact this.”

As an alternative, PwC recommended that the proposed three-year residence rule should be replaced with another ‘more practical rule’.

“For example, it could be linked to a person ceasing to be ordinarily resident in South Africa – as opposed to necessarily not tax resident,” it said.

The opposite of modern

In its submission,  Tax Consulting SA said that the amendment is at ‘cross purposes’ to its intended goal of a more ‘modern’ exchange control system.

It highlighted that under the new system , retirement benefits will effectively be locked in and will be inaccessible to the individual in question for a minimum period of three years, even after they have left South Africa permanently.

This restriction will only be lifted once the taxpayer in question is able to prove they have been non-resident for an uninterrupted period of at least three years.

“By any measure, this new test is the opposite of modernisation and a step back towards locking in retirement funds after becoming non-resident for tax and exchange control purposes,” it said.

“Furthermore, if the test is to be based on residency, it is not clear why withdrawal is subject to a period of three full years. If the taxpayer has ceased residency, why impose a punitive lock-in of this extent?,” the firm asked.

Tax Consulting SA that the proposed amendment will do away with a well-established process that allows emigrants to freely expatriate their retirement benefits with one that is far more restrictive and less transparent.

 

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].

Plan to Open Up Tourism in South Africa – Including International Flights – But No Dates Yet

The Department of Tourism presented its revised budget in parliament on 9 July, highlighting how the coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown have caused massive damage to the industry.

Addressing parliament’s tourism portfolio committee, Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said that while easing lockdown regulations in the sector was aimed at assisting businesses, it had to be done under strict conditions, and while reinforcing government’s health objectives towards defeating Covid-19.

The minister added that her department’s focus will be on supporting domestic tourism as the first point of recovery.

However, she caution cautioned that the recovery of the entire tourism industry would largely depend on how travel-ready authorities are in terms of managing and controlling coronavirus locally and globally.

The below graphic, taken from the department’s presentation, shows how tourism and the aviation sector is likely to open up in South Africa.

The department did not provide information on when these phases are likely to be introduced – noting again that they were heavily dependent on aviation regulations. However, it made it clear that it will focus on ‘domestic tourism first’.

“Tourism recovery will experience a number of phases, from hyper-local community attractions, through broader domestic tourism, regional land and air markets, and lastly resumption of world-wide international travel.

“The phases may not necessarily follow the same sequence but of certain is domestic tourism first.”

Tourism director-general, Victor Tharage, confirmed that the department lost close to R1 billion in its readjusted budget as announced by finance minister Tito Mboweni.

However, Tharage said that although there were difficult times ahead for the industry and those dependent on it, his department would still be able to meet all its amended targets in line with its adjusted budget.

Travel

At the end of June, Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced that a number of air travel restrictions will be eased as part of the country’s move to ‘advanced’ level 3.

Mbalula said that this will include the reopening of a number of domestic air routes, as well as general relaxations around the industry.

The airports include:

  • Bram Fischer International Airport (Bloemfontein);
  • Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport;
  • Pietermaritzburg Airport;
  • Port Elizabeth International Airport;
  • Richard’s Bay Airport;
  • Skukuza International Airport.

OR Tambo International, Cape Town International, King Shaka International airport, and Lanseria have been open since the start of the June.

South Africans are currently only allowed to fly domestically for business purposes, with international travel only allowed for repatriation and medical evacuations.

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].

Zimbabwean Elections to be Held In 5 Months

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced that the country will hold free and fair elections in 5 months – the first to take place after the reign of Robert Mugabe. The President stated that he has no doubt the vote will go ahead peacefully, and that he wants Zimbabwe to engage the world as a qualified democratic state.

Opposition party, the MDC, has called for reforms before a vote takes place. The party has requested that the Electoral Act be aligned with the constitution, which would allow for postal voting and the appointment of an independent electoral commission. The MDC has also requested equal access to a register of voters, which the party was denied access to during the 2013 elections, leading it to boycott subsequent by-elections.

Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has fired 11 allies of former leader Robert Mugabe from parliament, stating that the former members no longer represented their interests. During the de facto military coup that brought an end to Mugabe’s leadership, many of the former President’s political allies were either arrested during a series of raids, or fled to neighboring countries.

The Zimbabwe government is also due to set up 10 specialized courts to try cases of corruption. Chief Justice Luke Malaba said a court with specially-trained staff would be set up in each of the 10 provinces, starting with Harare and Bulawayo. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has given corrupt officials until the end of next month to return money illegally stashed abroad. The new President has promised to clamp down on the corruption that flourished under his predecessor.

 

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

Sources: [1], [2], [3]. Image source: [1].