Let’s Forget it: South Africa visa-free travel for Ghanaians in limbo
In September 2018, South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, announced that South Africa was finalising a number of visa waiver agreements with other countries, allowing travellers to enter the country without a visa in a bid to boost the country’s tourism.
The minister added that negotiations were being finalised for visa waiver agreements with Cuba, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Belarus. Ghana was not mentioned, and all journalists present who tweeted the minister’s message did not have Ghana in the tweets.
#Gigabavisa negotiations are being finalised for visa waiver agreements with countries including Cuba, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and Belarus @TeamNews24
— Alex Mitchley (@AlexMitchley) September 25, 2018
Someway somehow, Ghana found it’s way on the list of several online reports with no reference to any official statement from the Department of Home Affairs.
From September 2018, no updates were heard until July 2019 when the South Africa Department of Home Affairs (DHA) announced again that new countries had been added to their list of visa-free countries. Luckily, Ghana and Sao Tome & Principe appeared on the new list.
Today, we wish to announce an addition to our visa – free countries.
•United Arab Emirates
•Sao Tome and Principe@travel24 @tourism_gov_za#DHABudgetVote2019 pic.twitter.com/u6edTwkWxu
— HomeAffairsSA 🇿🇦 (@HomeAffairsSA) July 10, 2019
The news was met with jubilation as Ghanaians were tired of the ridiculous service fees charged by the Visa Application Center, which is about four times the official visa fees. Many Ghanaian travellers to South Africa suspended their trips with hope of saving at least GHS500 and take advantage of the visa-free travel. Few weeks later, all the countries on the list were approved to begin visa-free travels to South Africa in exception of Ghana and Sao Tome & Principe without any bilateral agreements with those countries.
Authorities in South Africa promised to meet Ghanaian authorities and finalise the implementation by the end of August 2019. With how the Foreign Ministry of Ghana has signed several bilateral visa agreements, Ghanaians are confident that the ministry would never hesitate in meeting South African authorities to ensure quick implementation of the policy.
While Ghana’s parliament has on its website that it has been implemented and Ghanaians can travel to South Africa without visas, South Africa authorities say they are yet to finalise and implement.
Who is delaying the process? Certainly not Ghana.
South Africa have probably changed their position in granting Ghana this privilege but are not making it known for reasons best known to them. Officials from South Africa Tourism and the President himself have visited Ghana, but there is still no hope in sight.
South Africa has made several announcements in the past few weeks about changes in their visa policy; South Africa visa validity for Chinese and Nigerians and piloted e-Visa system with Kenya but said nothing about granting Ghanaians visa-free entry.
If you are among those trying to save the VFS service fees to enjoy visa-free travel to South Africa, know that you may have to wait forever. Go ahead and apply for South African visa if you want to visit the country as there are no sign of visas being waived for Ghanaian travellers.