On Wednesday, October 31, the opposition in Parliament grilled the Minister of Tourism over government’s failure to amend regulations relating to foreign minors travelling to South Africa.

South African Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has yet to formally make the changes the Cabinet undertook to gazette last month.

Willem Faber, the Northern Cape's Democratic Alliance (DA) representive, and Member of Parliament, challenged Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, who had issued a supporting statement to Gigaba’s public announcement on the gazetting, in a plenary sitting of the National Council of Provinces (watch video below).

Faber requested an explanation as to why the gazetting had not been actioned. Hanekom parried with the remark that the Minister of Home Affairs would be in the best position to provide the details with regard to matters of immigration regulations.

"However, the proposals have been discussed between Minister Gigaba and myself. He said the Immigration Advisory Board (IAB) will meet on November 2 to process the proposed amendments. The regulations as gazetted in 2014 will only be scrapped once new regulations are gazetted. Although this is not the domain of the Department of Tourism, I am confident that the revised regulations will be gazetted shortly after the Immigration Advisory Board meeting this week.”

Faber reminded the House that President Cyril Ramaphosa had specifically mandated that the blocks to tourists entering South Africa be done away with as quickly as possible. “This was done a month-and-a-half ago,” continued Faber, raising the question as to whether “Gigaba is ignoring this direct instruction by the President".

Hanekom reiterated: “It has to go through this process. There’s no choice. Minister Gigaba made an announcement shortly after the President’s announcement, saying that the [UBC] requirements for foreign children visiting SA will be brought in line with other countries like the USA, Canada and the UK."

The Minster said that while the two ministries try to speak with one voice, the Minister of Home Affairs would have to explain himself. “I can’t tell you what the delays have been, but my press statement was merely echoing what the Minister of Home Affairs had said, when he made his announcement of this package of measures.

We have a Cabinet decision, and we expect any Minister to implement their part of Cabinet decisions.”

Tourism Update spoke to CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), David Frost, who has been pivotal in driving the public spotlight being placed on UBCs.

“The question we’ve been asking of Home Affairs all this time has never been answered,” said Frost. “And that is: give us the change in statistics of child trafficking since the introduction of the UBCs. They can’t. What we need is not a ball and chain to our tourists, but rather a proper policing system, and collaborations between international policing bodies like UNWTO and Interpol. That’s how you combat child trafficking; not with ridiculous UBCs.”

The tourism sector has had enough, says Frost. “Gigaba is a liar, and has proven this time and again. So why should we trust him or even engage with him? The country’s economic growth is being held to ransom. It’s time for the Tourism Terminator to go, and the President should respond in the way that any employer would when someone is not doing their job: you’re fired!”