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Hurdles to trade? South Africa’s immigration policy and informal sector cross-border traders in the SADC

10. Recommendations

Many of these entrepreneurs do not meet the requirements for a “Business Permit”. Those that sell break the rules applicable to Visitors Permits. Furthermore, restrictions placed on the number of Visitors Permits that can be issued to a single individual and special permission required to get a multiple entry permit also hampers their activities. The Immigration Bill should be amended so that:


A new category of temporary resident permit, a “Traders Permit” is introduced

OR: The Visitors Permit category should be amended to facilitate the issue of permits to traders to enable them to trade, and to have easier access to multiple entry permits.

Either option could:

  • Offer options for multiple entry

  • Allow traders to sell goods in informal and formal sector markets

  • Be limited to people carrying goods under a certain amount (e.g. R10,000)

  • Have strong penalties for anyone found working on such a permit

  • Be limited to citizens of SADC countries—or be extended to citizens of all countries or just African countries
Such a permit would allow traders to sell in the informal sector and allow multiple entry. This would reduce administrative costs and release Home Affairs and embassy officials to deal with more pressing immigration concerns. Like other temporary permits it would recognise the multiple reasons that people enter South Africa (to the country’s benefit). It would also remove the ambiguous status of non-South African traders, remove opportunities for corruption and improve the regulation and management of the system. Reciprocal trading permits (bi- or multi-lateral should be negotiated to enable South African traders similar access to regional markets.

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