Cape Town – With elections just a week away emigration companies are already experiencing a surge in people enquiring to move overseas over the uncertainty of political leadership in the country.
“I can confirm that the number of enquiries regarding visas for other countries has increased,” said spokesperson at Immigration and Consulting South Africa (Imcosa).
“Seeing that this does not form part of our service (ours relates only to incoming visas and permits for South Africa), it is only the stray enquiry regarding emigration that will reach us.”
According to the company, the number of such “stray” enquiries has quadrupled in the past few weeks.
Experts have previously predicted that last year would prove to be a record year for emigration after a spike in 2015, when more than 25000 South Africans moved abroad.
The UK Office for National Statistics announced this year that, in 2017, an estimated 7300 people emigrated from South Africa to the UK. The most recent figures come from Statstics SA’s Community Survey 2016, a large-scale survey conducted between censuses.
The survey showed that 97460 South Africans had moved abroad since 2006. The bulk were between the ages of 25 and 44.
Ryan Rennison, managing director of UK visa solutions firm Move Up said that over the past four years, the company has witnessed an increase in the number of South Africans requesting permission to enter the UK.
“Late last year, we witnessed a 22% increase in the number of applicants looking to emigrate and head to the UK.
“A lot of Move Up cases consist of economic-motivated migration. Career restrictions and economic instability often motivate clients to take their skill set and expose themselves to First World economies,” Rennison said.
Global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners said there was a ever-growing demand for their services in South Africa.
“The number of foreign citizenship enquiries from South Africans shot up 125% in the second-half of last year over the same period in 2017.
“This translated into a 53% increase in applications for foreign citizenship in the second half of 2018. There was a 364% spike in enquiries in October 2018 over the same month in 2017.
“Interestingly, around 95% of South African high-net-worth clients looking to acquire an alternative citizenship are not looking to relocate or immigrate,” said Henley & Partners spokesperson Sarah Nicklin.
The country is facing a tumultuous time, both economically and socially, with monthly rising fuel prices, an unemployment level sitting stubbornly above 20%, coupled with poverty and inequality.
University of Stellenbosch political analyst Amanda Gouws said that this was because of elections.
“I think that people are a bit anxious, they are fearful that the ANC won’t get 50% and we will have a coalition government. But more so there is a fear surrounding the land and whether it will be expropriated and whether Cyril Ramaphosa will be president,” she said.
Gouws said that the economic state of South Africa had created a discourse within the country about emigration.
“The economy is in a very bad condition and there is discourse among the whites. I think it’s mostly white people who are deciding to emigrate because they have family members living overseas” she said.