Citizen Reporter
Reporter
2 minute read
15 Dec 2021
10:51 am

Government wants UK to pay damages caused to SA’s economy due to red listing

Citizen Reporter

On Tuesday afternoon, the UK announced it was removing South Africa and 10 other countries from its travel red list.

Minister of International Relations and Coorperation Naledi Pandor. Picture; Gallo Images/Sydney Seshibedi

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) wants the United Kingdom (UK) to cover the costs of the money lost due to the travel ban imposed on South Africa.

This comes after the UK removed South Africa and 10 other African countries from its red list barring incoming travel.

The British government and a number of other countries imposed a travel ban on South Africa following the detection of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

The move was widely criticised, with International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor insisting that South Africa was being “punished” for “excellent science” because the country had alerted the world to the new variant.

But UK has since taken credit for the discovery of Omicron after Health Secretary Sajid Javid claimed that it was the UK who had raised alarm, adding that the British’s surveillance on new variants was unparalleled in the world.

Compensation

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela welcomed the move to take South Africa off the list.

“I think the first [thing] we need to say is that we welcome this decision to remove South Africa and the other African countries from the red list [but] it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

“We have always said, and the WHO [World Health Organization] have said this, that the closure of borders in position of travel bans does not work… it’s a blunt instrument,” he told Radio 702 on Wednesday morning.

ALSO READ: UK Red List: SA ‘wasn’t punished’ for the science – British High Commissioner

Monyela also commented on British High Commissioner to South Africa Antony Phillipson’s attempts to defend the red list decision, saying the stance “was very frustrating”.

He further indicated that the department wanted the UK to pay the damages caused to South Africa’s economy.

“One of things I am glad to hear the high commissioner is saying is the admission that the decision has had a devastating impact on South Africa… it’s been very damaging.

“So the next conversation we would like with them is that are you going to compensate us, because it has now been proven that this decision was wrong and wasn’t based on science,” he added.

Travel bookings

The travel restrictions have severely impacted trade and tourism between South Africa and the UK.

Only two days after South Africa was placed on the red list again, the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) and the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) said the tourism and hospitality sector had already lost R1 billion in cancelled bookings for travel between December and March.

According to the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, the tourism industry lost approximately R26 million per day when South Africa was on the red list.

Satsa has since estimated that more than 300,000 British passport holders could visit friends and family or take advantage of holiday deals across southern Africa this summer season, Fin24 reported.