New Home Affairs minister Leon Schreiber in hot soup for promoting illegal foreigners and unemployment in SA

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The air in South Africa is thick with tension, a potent cocktail of economic anxieties and simmering resentment over immigration policy. At the heart of this storm is the new Minister of Home Affairs, Leon Schreiber, whose decision to extend the deadline for visa applications has ignited a firestorm of criticism, highlighting the deep-seated divisions within the country.

Schreiber, barely a day into his role, announced the extension, a move he claims is aimed at attracting investment and skills to South Africa, making it a more competitive player on the global stage. However, his critics, a chorus of voices from across the political spectrum, see this as a betrayal of South African workers, a blatant disregard for their struggles in a country grappling with sky-high unemployment.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM), a vocal critic, issued a statement that reverberated with the anxieties of many South Africans: "The African Transformation Movement (ATM) notes with grave concern the recent announcement by Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Leon Schreiber, extending the temporary concession for foreign nationals awaiting visa, waiver, and appeal outcomes. This decision demonstrates a blatant disregard for the well-being and economic prospects of South Africans."


The ATM's concerns are echoed by ActionSA, a political party that has been particularly vocal on the issue of immigration. Lerato Ngobeni, ActionSA's caucus leader in the National Assembly, slammed Schreiber's decision, stating, "Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber’s first act was to extend temporary concessions for foreign nationals’ visas, along with public statements outlining priorities for improving work visa processes, ActionSA implores the minister to address the urgent crisis of illegal immigration with equal vigour and make it a top priority."

The sentiment is further amplified by a petition launched by Kaneth Smollan, a concerned citizen who penned a scathing critique of Schreiber's policy: "Patriotic South Africans, Let’s stop Leon Schreiber, the DA minister of home affairs, from extending working visas for immigrants. This is an insult to the work done by his predecessor former minister Aaron Motsoaledi who worked hard to fix the mess done by the government, which contributes to high unemployment rate as companies are hiring immigrants because they are cheap labour. And most of them are not skilled, some have just faked qualifications from their countries."

Smollan's words resonate with the anxieties of many South Africans who feel that their own interests are being sidelined in favour of those from elsewhere. The perception that foreign nationals are taking jobs away from South Africans, coupled with the rise in crime associated with illegal immigration, has fueled resentment and mistrust towards immigrants.

Schreiber, however, remains unmoved by the criticism, dismissing it as "ignorant." He insists that the extension only applies to legal visa holders who are already contributing to the South African economy through tourism, investment, and skills. He claims that the move is necessary to tackle the backlog in visa applications and to make South Africa more competitive in attracting investment.

His stance, however, has done little to quell the growing discontent. The debate surrounding Schreiber's policy highlights the complex and often fraught relationship between immigration and economic development in South Africa. While the country desperately needs skilled workers and foreign investment, many South Africans feel that their own interests are being sidelined. The porous borders and the rampant corruption within the Department of Home Affairs have only exacerbated these anxieties, leading to a perception that the system is rigged against South Africans.

The issue of immigration is not simply about numbers. It is about the impact that immigration has on the lives of ordinary South Africans. The perception that foreign nationals are taking jobs away from South Africans, coupled with the rise in crime associated with illegal immigration, has fueled resentment and mistrust towards immigrants.

Schreiber's decision to extend visa applications, while seemingly aimed at boosting the economy, has only served to further inflame these tensions. By prioritizing the needs of foreign nationals over those of South Africans, he has, in the eyes of many, further alienated those who are already feeling left behind.

This situation calls for a nuanced and sensitive approach to immigration policy. South Africa needs to find a balance between attracting foreign investment and skills while protecting the interests of its own citizens. This requires a comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes of unemployment and crime, as well as a commitment to ensuring that the immigration system is fair, transparent, and accountable.


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