DA calls on Minister Motsoaledi to account for UAE entourage landing

The UAE’s president and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his family. Picture: Instagram

The UAE’s president and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his family. Picture: Instagram

Published Apr 25, 2023


Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) shadow minister of home affairs, Angel Khanyile, has called on the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to come clean on the recent landing of the UAE president and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on a South African runway.

Last week, news reports suggested that Zayed Al Nahyan and more than 500 family members and staff quietly landed on a recently refurbished strip at Bulembu airport, which the UAE leader rebuilt at a cost of R20 million of his own money.

The wealthy ruler is said to be in the country along with an entourage of 500, including other members of the UAE royal family, staff, and top artists who were expected to perform for the family to mark the end of Ramadaan.

On Monday, following widespread condemnation of the incident that has since been likened to the Gupta landing at Waterkloof over ten years ago, the DA called on Motsoaledi to prove that he followed the law in processing the wealthy visitors.

‘’The Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, should, in compliance with the Immigration Act of 2002 and the Border Management Authority Act of 2020, provide evidentiary proof that he complied with the law in designating Bhisho Airport, in the Eastern Cape, as a temporary port of entry to facilitate inbound immigration entry to the UAE President and his 500 guests,’’ Khanyile said.

The DA says Section 9(A) of the Immigration Act of 2002 gives the Minister authority, in the prescribed manner, to ‘’designate any place in the Republic that complies with the prescribed requirements; however, all persons have to report before they may enter, sojourn, remain within, or depart from, the Republic.

‘’Section 30(3) of the Border Management Authority requires that the Minister must, prior to an approval, publish a notice in the Gazette for public comments for a period of not less than 30 days,’’ Khanyile added.

She said there was no indication that the minister had complied with these stipulations, adding that there was no sight of a government notice to this effect.

"After we failed to find a notice, either on the Department of Home Affairs website or on the online government gazette, listing his intention to designate Bhisho Airport as a temporary international port of entry, the DA is now calling for Motsoaledi to provide proof thereof. The failure to locate this gazette may potentially create the risk of his declaratory letter to the Eastern Cape Premier being invalid and of no force in law, requiring that it be withdrawn immediately and the ‘temporary port of entry’ authorisation voided," Khanyile said.

Furthermore, the DA said Motsoaledi must provide answers on whether the 500 guests who were accompanying the UAE President had the requisite visas and were cleared by immigration officials to enter the republic.

‘’The immigration status of the guests needs to be verified and confirmed to ascertain if they are in the country legally,’’ she said.

The Star