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Published on : Saturday, June 20, 2015
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Amina Mohammed said South Africa has violated bilateral agreements signed by both countries by slapping strict visa regulations on Kenyan citizens visiting South Africa.
“They have violated a number of provisions in our bilateral arrangements,” Mohammed said in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Friday, hinting that the new regulations may affect trade between the two countries.
South Africa’s new visa regulations require Kenyans to submit applications for clearance to travel and wait for at least seven working days to confirm whether a visa would be issued.
Mohammed said there was largely no guarantee that those submitting the visa applications would be granted after the seven-day wait, which has an effect on those planning to travel on business trips to South Africa.
A plan by Kenya to impose strict visa rules on South Africans in July 2014 was dropped, even as South Africa dropped its earlier relaxed visa regime that allowed Kenyans to transit through South African airports at no charge and without visa.
Under the new dispensation, Kenyans applying for South African visa are to pay US$60 as processing fees and US$150 for visa.
Also, Kenyan citizens have been excluded from applying for South African visa at the port of entry.
“These regulations are a surprise to us. They are even a surprise to the South African Foreign Minister,” Mohammed said. “They are a barrier to trade.”
A South African government delegation is expected in Nairobi shortly to begin discussions on the raft of measures that Kenyan officials feel have violated the existing bilateral arrangements between the two countries.