The South African Border Management Authority – better border management or just another agency?
Borders and border control matter. A starker reminder of this simple truth could hardly be found than the Covid-19 pandemic. It caused worldwide ‘lockdowns’ and border closures that disrupted the movement of persons, goods and services and caused more economic harm than the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. Regular reports of the International Air Traffic Association (IATA) paint a grim picture of the losses suffered by airlines when closed borders hit international travel and air cargo for the better part of 2020. Borders also matter in facilitating trade. This much is trite. Smooth border procedures save money, reduce traders’ costs and ensure proper revenue collection for the authorities. Yet, while much has been done and achieved by various international organisations in establishing and refining best international practices for border management, challenges remain.
Against this backdrop South Africa’s recent creation of a single border management authority is of more than passing interest. South Africa is a dominant economy on the African continent. The question this paper will attempt to answer, is whether, on a proper reading of the Border Management Authority Act 2 of 2020, the concerns are valid. The intention is not an in-depth section-by-section analysis, but rather whether the text conceptually reflects a workable model.
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