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WINDOW OF HOPE FOR E18m INVESTOR

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By Musa Ndlangamandla - SWAZI OBSERVER-22-Jan-2010

CHIEF Immigration Officer Phineas Dlamini has indicated that there yet could be a ‘window of opportunity’ for an investor who is seeking work permits for three expatriates to look after his interests at the 100-staff Nhlangano Casino Royale.

Dlamini said the matter was currently before the Immigration Advisory Committee, a statutory body, which deals with appeals brought by people whose applications for work permits were declined. He said as a department, they were very keen on encouraging investment and to do everything possible to facilitate it than thwart it.

Speaking

Dlamini was speaking yesterday at his offices in Mbabane following an article carried by this newspaper yesterday about South African national and owner of the hotel Kobus van den Bergh.

It was indicated that van den Bergh, who resides in South Africa, is seeking a work permit for an expatriate general manager who, he says has been able to turn things around. Bergh was asked if there were no Swazi nationals who could fill the posts and if it is justified to have an expatriate. He indicated that whilst there were Swazis who work at the hotel the business was at the stage where it needed someone who has vast experience, multi-skilled, a proven record and most importantly a history with him. He said Swazis would understudy the individual.

Input

“This man has proven to be extraordinarily efficient and due to his input, Nhlangano Casino Royale has been turned around from the dilapidated establishment in which it was in when we bought it some months ago. It is now achieving break-even status. In the past I would be compelled to pump in around E100 000 per month to cater for operational costs of the establishment, but in the last couple of months I have not had to do so. The establishment is now self-sustaining since he is a good manager and is able to close some of the leaks that drained financial resources from the company,” van den Bergh. Swazi Observer then approached the chief immigration officer to find out his side of the story.

Appeal

“The matter you are talking about is now on appeal and is being attended to. The Swaziland Investment Promotions Authority has been here to see us and this matter did come up in our vast discussions and they expressed the hope that the matter would be finalised with urgency,” he said.

Dlamini explained that procedurally, people apply to the chief immigration officer who is mandated to grant work permits. “However, for the sake of transparency this office formed a committee that comprises officials from all relevant ministries who scrutinize the application. They meet once a week on Friday. What they look into is if there is a need for the expatriate and if Swazis are not available. We also see if they company is viable. At times we also send the team out to the field to check things on the ground,” he said. He added that the training and localisation body also plays a part and the chief immigration officer is also part of the body.

Dlamini said he was not aware why the Nhlangano Casino Royale application was declined, but added that this could be because of many reasons one of which is that they have to give more details in justifying their case before the team.

Chance

He said it was encouraging that the law provides for appeals where another chance is given to the investor to state his case. “Ours is not to fight investors. But we want everyone to comply and also to look out for the interests of the nation. I can assure you that this matter will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

The ministry of labour and social security, under whose umbrella is the training and localisation body, has said it is aware of the matter and that it was being dealt with by the relevant bodies at the ministry of home affairs.


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