South Africa’s Motsoaledi Denies Work-Permit Crisis, Says His Department Is a Scapegoat

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s minister of Home Affairs dismissed criticism that his department is causing a skills crisis in the country by failing to process work-permit applications and said it’s becoming a “scapegoat” for the failures of business.

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Aaron Motsoaledi said there’s no backlog of critical-skills applications and said his department is working expeditiously to process requests in the pipeline.

A report published earlier this year, commissioned by the South African presidency, said the lengthy delays in processing work visas are hampering growth and deterring investment. It said a lack of skills is the second-biggest threat to the economy after an energy crisis that sees the imposition of power cuts on an almost daily basis.

“I am starting to believe that when businessmen are failing to step up to the pedal and improve the economy, the scapegoat is Home Affairs,” Motsoaledi said in an interview on eNCA television Monday. “We do everything in our power” to help businesses, he said.

While South Africa takes 48 weeks or more to process an application Kenya takes 12 and Nigeria eight, the presidency said in the report.

“A lack of critical skills is holding back the South African economy,” Business Leadership South Africa Chief Executive Officer Busi Mavuso said in a column published by Moneyweb on Monday. “The fact that companies can’t fill the positions means they can’t invest and expand.” BLSA represents the biggest companies operating in the country.

AECI Ltd., an explosives and chemical maker, earlier this month said that Holger Riemensperger, a German national announced as group chief executive in February effective from May 1, has yet to get all the paperwork from various South African authorities to allow him to apply for a work visa. Riemensperger is running the Johannesburg-based company, which gets more than half of its revenue from its South African base, from Germany.

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