Should ZA Impose Visa Restrictions on the Brits?

Britain imposes visa restrictions on SA visitors, and SA is trying to get these lifted. Some are suggesting we should increase the pressure by imposing visa requirement on visitors from the UK. What do our experts think?

Mike Schussler from

Generally, I think visa restrictions are silly on both sides. But for SA, we may lose quite a few tourists in the process and that is not something we would like to happen. While SA gets more travellers from Africa the fact is developed country tourists generally have more money to spend and they are much more likely to stay in hotels and in guest houses. They are also more likely to spend money at car rental agencies, wine farms, restaurants and so on. These are the tourists whose dollars or pounds create jobs. With our lack of job creation over the last 25 years, this is not something we can afford to make difficult. SA must rise above political point-scoring with the UK. We must learn that job creation and maintenance must supersede everything else. Who wants to go to the UK and not feel comfortable inviting people back to visit SA?

Mario Pretorius from Telemasters:

The visa saga with the UK reflects the corruption of our passport authorities who sold enough ‘green mambas’ to foreigners needing free access to the Queen’s country. Unless such passports are found & withdrawn, multiple IDs are eradicated, foreign purchases of ID books are eliminated, and the fraudulent withdrawn, there remains an army of wannabe Brits waiting to hurdle the visa barrier. On the other hand the UK seems bent on filling up its Sceptred Isle with new arrivals; this could be a belated Boer War ‘take them’? Switzerland is stepping out of Schengen to protect its own; this indicates the trend of an integrated world economy with Apartheid-type borders.

Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation:

Let me start by saying that in response to the cost and effort I’m told about for UK visas, it got me to decide when it was introduced that I won’t go there again – unless something serious forces me to do so. In common parlance, it pisses me off. That personal note aside, the natural knee-jerk reaction to other people’s bad behaviour is usually to mimic them. That’s really odd; they do something you think is wrong, and you respond by doing the same thing. As if 2 wrongs make a right ….the old cutting off your nose (should that be "knows"?) to spite your face conundrum. Tit-for-tat is inherently paradoxical. You start by condemning someone’s conduct, and then you respond by doing the same thing. In other words, you do what you condemn. Sometimes there seems to be a good case for it, to retaliate, for instance, by punching someone who punches you. Amongst alternatives are to turn the other cheek, to turn your back, to flee, to pacify, to seek help etc. Someone joked that the Bible requires turning the other cheek and if they smack you again, then you clobber them. Anyhow, an eye-for-an-eye might be right in some contexts, but seems generally a bad idea, especially in international relations. We see this knee-jerk reaction in all contexts of human interaction. In international trade — which is my turf — it manifests itself as tariff wars. You impose tariffs on my products, so I impose tariffs on yours. The alternative (eg: Hong Kong, Switzerland) is to say "Ah well, toughies, your citizens will not be getting our great values, whereas ours will be getting yours, especially all the extra-cheap stuff you subsidise and dump, which adds insult to injury for your citizens, who end up subsidising ours. Bravo! Keep it up. Meanwhile, the rest of the world and we continue benefiting from mutually beneficial exchange. Your loss. So, with the UK, what I would do is let it be known that we condemn their action, that they make it clear they do not want us visiting the UK, but that we are not so petty as to do the same — which would be demeaning and submissive, letting them corrupt us. Instead we welcome Brits: please visit folks, we will not be so petty, xenophobic and short-sighted as to impose costs and obstacles in your path. We can actually turn their delinquency to our advantage. I would go further, but then I am not the master of diplomacy, and have our President or Minister say to South Africans "Britain makes it clear they don’t want us. We encourage you to visit and trade with friendly countries."

Neren Rau from Sacci:

I believe that we would be better placed to explore why we experience visa restrictions into the UK and responding/ addressing concerns/ issues if possible. Raising inbound visa restrictions would have a dampening effect on inbound tourism and this sector is one of the few strong performing sectors in SA right now.

Emile Myburgh of Emile Myburgh Attorneys:

I think it would be a good idea. At the time when the UK imposed visas on South African passport holders, they also wanted to impose visa requirements on Brazilians. Brazil has a strict reciprocity principle which means that Brazil requires visas from citizens of those countries that require visas from Brazilians. Hence, for example, US citizens need visas to visit Brazil, but South Africans don’t. When Brazil advised the UK that they would impose the reciprocity principle on UK citizens visiting Brazil, the UK backed off. One can, of course, argue that Brazil has more clout than SA, but I think we can gain from such a strict policy of reciprocity. The argument that SA stands to lose more by requiring visas from UK or Europeans visiting us, is not a valid argument. People that need or want to come here, will still come here. There are plenty of examples (like Angola) of countries with strict visa requirements for all foreigners, and that is not deterring anyone from going there.


Emile Myburgh makes a strong case, but I am not fully convinced. This is not a battle of wills between equals. Britain has far more rigid and respected controls and safeguards than we do in SA, and until we can convince the Brits that we are responsible and can be trusted to control the fraudulent issuing of travel documents, they may be right to insist on the visa restriction. Were we to retaliate, we would hit tourism, which would be self-defeating. Improve the image of SA, and then we will have something with which to bargain.

Tweet of the day:

Puns (@omgthatspunny ( ): When I asked the man how he became a ditch-digger, he said he just fell into it

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