In the past weeks, I received plenty of messages from clients, thanking me for my candour in our monthly newsletters. I appreciate these kind words as they motivate me to continue in the same vein.
Every month I sit in front of a blank screen and try to find the right balance between speaking about politics in South Africa and IBN matters.
Many of the people who receive the newsletter, may not have the same interests but a considerable number of them share my personal views.
South Africa has moved down to level 2. Our economy is open and nearly all restrictions have been lifted, except for one, which is strategic to our business and that of tourism:
THE OPENING OF SOUTH AFRICA’s BORDERS.
In practice nothing much has changed. In Cape Town, very similar to the situation in Johannesburg, the city remains deserted. A commute by car from my home that lasted 2 hours before the lockdown, now only takes 25 minutes at best.
On Saturdays, the Cape Town Business District is forlorn. Only a few coffee shops are open and most restaurants are closed. The situation is dismal and reminds me of the late 90s when things in central Cape Town were deteriorating rapidly. It is more like an economic decline than a recovery.
The Western Cape needs to wake up and return to its old self. This applies to government institutions, employers and their employees. We need to snap out of the comfortable homely routine and get our focus back to business and building the economy.
Let us take a closer look at the immigration authorities! VFS offices are still closed for submissions despite the move to level 2. They are waiting on instructions from Home Affairs. The same applies to the missions overseas. Why is there a delay? Which brings me to the next point.
The government and its administration seem to be in no hurry to return to work. There seems to be no sense of urgency. The WC should have moved down to Level 2 in early July when it passed the peak for new infections.
South Africa should be following the example of other African countries like Kenya, Angola, Mozambique, Mauritius and Namibia in opening its borders for international travel, without quarantine restrictions but with compulsory Covid- 19 testing on departure and arrival.
Until now, there has been no indication when our borders will open. The lack of communication is somewhat familiar, but it is my opinion that some politicians are far too complacent with the knowledge that businesses are struggling.
Could this be a way to restructure the economy whatever that means?
At IBN we are back with a vengeance. My staff will be in the office twice a week, some more than that. Initially some were scared that it may be to early but it is evident how much they enjoy being back and talking to their colleagues. It is good to hear laughter in the office again.
During the past weeks we have focused on important internal projects and achieved a great deal as indicated:
- We reduced the onboarding time of new staff, increased self- learning options for existing staff and improved our training library.
- We implemented new case management software for Key Account Management.
- We have grown our portfolio of products. We now offer work, retirement and investment consultations and visa preparations for France, Namibia and Mauritius.
It is my opinion that the inbound volume of foreigners into South Africa will reduce drastically, from its current level, in the next few years.
As mentioned in our newsletter previously, IBN now has a local office in Maputo, Mozambique. The company is run by my partner Karin Burgman and her staff, who have by now assisted a few of South African based companies with their immigration needs.
In conclusion, Covid-19 has accelerated the downward spiraling of the South African economy and I do not see much being done to reverse this process.
At IBN we will endeavour to remain relevant to our clients, employees and partners and will emerge from this crisis even stronger.
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By Andreas Krensel