Transcript copy: Briefing to media by Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma following inspection of facilities at OR Tambo International Airport, OR Tambo International Airport, Kempton Park, Johannesburg
12 Jun 2009
Comments by Minister Dlamini Zuma
Thank you for getting up this morning to come here.
Basically I have just come to ensure that all systems are ready for receiving the fans and dignitaries to the Confederations Cup. As you know, Home Affairs is the first contact when you are applying for visas (the Department of Home Affairs is the first point of call) and when you arrive in the country. You arrive on the property of Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) but the people with whom a visitor interacts first is an official from the Department of Home Affairs.
We have to work very closely with ACSA and have a good working relationship with them in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly and of course, this is a dry run for 2010 so we are looking at this programme, not only as a programme merely for people to come into South Africa but also as a programme for us to learn lessons, to assess areas of weakness to ensure that in 2010 we are ready to receive the world.
In terms of visas for instance, we are piloting an events visa for 2010. We decided to pilot it in Egypt - Egyptian spectators will therefore get a special visa called an events visa and our officials, not just those in our mission but those who have travelled to Egypt to liaise with the Egyptian authorities to really ensure that when we roll it out we are aware of all of the hitches so this is why we have decided to pilot it.
Egypt is the only African country coming to Confederations Cup that requires a visa so this is why we thought it would be a good idea to pilot it in Egypt. So far, as you can see, we have had a very good programme together with ACSA and you can see our immigration officers are there, ready to welcome everyone with a smile and facilitate, I am told, from the time people come into the terminal building to the time that they get into their cars, we are talking about 20 to 25 minutes in terms of those coming to Confederations Cup.
The good thing about all of this is that after 2010, whatever systems we have put into place, will remain. They will then be the systems we use for all immigration into South Africa. 2010 will leave a good legacy for South Africa, in terms of the infrastructure and the work ethic. And of course, this is not the only port of entry. There are other ports of entry that we have prioritised – Lanseria Airport and also the borders, Lesotho, Botswana and Lebombo. We want to ensure that those travelling to South Africa by road are also facilitated properly. We have increased our staff and we hope that everything will proceed smoothly.
We are here as a team from Home Affairs, you know our Deputy Minister and Director-General. That is our chief at the airport and our host.
You have seen it all yourself. I think it is good we were also able to welcome Sepp Blatter from the Home Affairs side. This was a good opportunity. We now need to see how it works. The events visa is a special visa and is at the moment free, it allows people with that visa and a ticket to proceed through immigration very quickly.
Questions and answers
Question: Minister, the World Health Organisation yesterday raised the level of swine flu to a level six pandemic. I did not notice any screening equipment as we walked around the airport. How do you plan to deal with this?
Answer: Well, before we proceeded to the immigration section, there was an Airport Health Station that checks people in terms of yellow fever, malaria, etc. So, there is a facility and it is not the Department of Home Affairs that is responsible, it is the Department of Health that is responsible for this.
Question: Minister, how do you feel about what you have seen?
Answer: I am very happy with what I have seen but the test will be at peak times to assess how it actually flows. But, the infrastructure is there, the people are there, so I am very happy with what I have seen.
Question: Minister, you mentioned that the systems used for 2010 will be continued post-2010. Does that mean that the way in which Home Affairs will operate within the airport post-2010 will change dramatically?
Answer: Well you can see it has already changed, as we have been preparing for the Confederations Cup. The infrastructure we have provided, we are bringing more human resources to man those stations. It will not only change post-2010, it is changing dramatically as we proceed towards 2010. In 2010 it would have reached its peak and it will continue post-2010.
Question: Minister, for how long is the events visa valid? Do you have numbers of those extra people who have been deployed to the borders?
Answer: I do not have the exact numbers but I know that we have deployed extra personnel to the borders serving as the main ports of entry.
The events visa, what we have done in this pilot phase there are people in Egypt and we have deployed additional personnel to Egypt, what you need to show – as far as I know, is that you are in possession of a ticket either a Confederations Cup or 2010 ticket and then fill in the relevant information.
Question: Minister, have you received a report on how the teams who have already arrived for the Confederations Cup were received in upon arrival?
Answer: Yes, I have received a report both from the General Manager of ACSA and Home Affairs officials and I am very happy. The teams arrived, were processed, and bussed from the airside (so they did not even experience this process). That is what will happen with 2010 as well. As I have said, this is a dry run and we are happy with it.
Cell: 082 990 4853
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
12 June 2009
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
12 Jun 2009
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