Earlier this month, there was an announcement by the South Africa Department of Home Affairs (DHA) that Ghana and other six countries have been added to the list of countries that can visit South Africa without visas. Since the announcement was made there have been lot of confusion with many people still struggling to believe the news while those who believe it seem to have very little knowledge on the subject.
As we always do at Jetsanza.com, we have made some further research and here are few things to take note of, regarding the visa free policy.
Not yet effective
Hold on! Don’t book your flights yet. Though the announcement has been made, it’s not yet effective. The DHA will return again with further information like effective date, maximum stay allowed and activities permitted. Until these information are announced, holders of Ghanaian passports are still required to obtain visas when traveling to South Africa.
Other media houses report that the visa-free travel takes effect in November 2019. Jetsanza.com has gathered that it’s rather the E-visa system that South Africa looks forward to launch in November (the e-visa system will be enjoyed by other countries who require visas to enter South Africa). We cannot confidently rubbish this date but looking at how it took a year for the announcement to be made after Ghana and other countries were promised last year, it would be no surprise if this policy takes another year to become effective.
Keep going for your visas until it finally becomes effective.
Not limited to diplomatic passport holders
Some people have claimed the policy is limited to only diplomatic passport holders. Well, that is not the case and ordinary Ghanaian passport holders are covered under the Visa free regime. Government of both states had a previous mutual agreement to allow diplomatic passport holders to travel freely to other’s country and that mutual agreement has absolutely nothing to do with the visa-free policy announced by the South Africa.
The visa-free policy is not a mutual agreement and South Africans visiting Ghana would be required to acquire visas except for diplomatic passport holders who fall under the previous mutual agreement signed by both countries. Government of Ghana released a press statement to confirm the mutual agreement signed in relation to diplomatic passport holders’ travel to South Africa. That policy is reciprocal but the visa-free isn’t; it’s one way. Only Ghana goes visa-free, South Africa doesn’t.
Policy not meant for those staying permanently or seeking asylum in South Africa
Ghana has no issues that really require that Ghanaians seek asylum in other countries. In South Africa, asylum seeking by Ghanaians is a popular practice. The visa-free privilege isn’t an invitation for Ghanaians to travel to South Africa to seek asylum, to work, or to live permanently.
The new policy is for those visiting for tourism purposes and/or other activities that are yet to be communicated by the DHA. For those who wish to go and reside in South Africa and work would have to go through the rigorous and standard process of acquiring visa before traveling.
Government played no role in the policy
This is a policy that was adopted by the South Africa Department of Home Affairs to boost its tourism sector. Ghana made it on the list based on the number of Ghanaian tourists that visit South Africa every year and had no government intervention. This is not a chance for any party to score political points as already seen on social media. Ghana is one of the largest markets for South Africa. Western Cape alone welcomes around 4,000 “wealthy Ghanaians” every year, according to Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro.
Though the Nigeria market is bigger than Ghana, with over 15,000 Nigerians visiting South Africa in April 2019 alone, Nigeria was not included in the countries to enjoy visa free travel to South Africa. Other factors might have played roles aside the number of Ghanaian tourist arrivals.
It’s forever but not forever
This policy would forever be enjoyed by Ghanaians until it’s abused. If you have any bad immigration intent, know that it can affect the good reputation that previous travelers have uphold for Ghana which made us favorites over other countries. This policy isn’t a mutual one and South Africa can take away Ghana at anytime they feel we’ve become a threat instead of a boost to it’s tourism.