Kenya ‘to reinstate’ tough South Africa visa rules if talks fail


Kenya will reinstate tough visa rules targeting South Africans if discussions between the two countries do not bear fruit, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed had said.
The discussions are scheduled for mid-September between Ms Mohamed and her South African counterpart Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Ms Mohamed said that the government had decided to suspend the new rules for a month in order to allow room for discussions as well as allow tourists who had booked earlier on to come to the country.
“We have a meeting scheduled for September before the UN General Assembly so that we are able to address the challenges raised.
“In the meantime we decided to relax the regulation in order not to paralyse the tourism sector following request from stakeholders,” said Ms Mohamed.
Speaking in Nairobi while briefing journalists on her tour to the US and Iran, the CS admitted that there was need for the two countries to review the regulation for the benefit of their citizens.
“If we are to implement these visa regulations, then we have to establish a method of practising them and I will be discussing that with my counterpart from South Africa,” said Ms Mohamed.
She defended the decision for Kenya to introduce the visa rules saying that Kenya was just reciprocating what the South Africa government had done.
Two weeks ago, the Kenyan High Commission in South Africa announced that the rules published in April would not be implemented as earlier stated.
“The mission writes to inform that visa requirements for South African nationals intended to become effective from 1st September 2014 have been suspended until further notice,” read a statement posted on the mission’s website.
That means that South Africans coming to Kenya will not require a visa if they are in transit or plan stay for less than 30 days.

Kenya’s new rules were in reaction to South Africa’s stringent requirements for Kenyans.
Previously, the two countries have had a deal where Kenyans would get a free visa if they were staying for less than 30 days but required no visa if they were transiting through South African airports.
It changed last year in December when a Sh5,850 “service charge” was slapped on the “free” visa if one was travelling to South Africa there for a month or less.
The visa requirement was also extended to transiting travellers.
If a Kenyan wants to stay longer than 30 days, she or he would have to pay nearly Sh12,000 in visa fees and service charges.
If reintroduced South Africans would pay a “service charge” of Sh6,000 to apply for a visa and make a compulsory appearance at the application bureau to submit finger prints in addition to other mandatory documents and proof of sufficient funds for travel.
According to Kenya Tourism Federation vice-chairman Adam Jillo, the rules were hurting Kenyans.

Foreign Affairs cabinet secretary Ambassador Amina Mohammed addresses a press conference outside the office of the President in Nairobi on October 14, 2013. Kenya will reinstate tough visa rules targeting South Africans if discussions between the two countries do not bear fruit, Ms Mohamed has said. PHOTO | ANN KAMONI

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