International travel bans had a major impact on people’s lives around the world. A number of people find themselves stuck in a country other than the one they normally reside in. This time, in a quixotic way, it happened that a South African family got stuck in their own country – South Africa.
International travel bans render many homeless
A South African family who live and work in New Zealand on work permits, returned to South Africa to renew passports. The International travel ban came in almost overnight. So, the Badenhorst’s remain stuck in South Africa for months with no end in sight, according to an article in the UK’s Daily Mail. Not many jobs in New Zealand, especially in agriculture, offer permanent posts. Mostly seasonal, the problem leaves the family sitting in an income-less flux. New Zealand sounds on paper like paradise. But, for those people who move there from South Africa, finding good work isn’t easy.
Even highly skilled professionals often need to attend college or university again to get their qualifications recognized. One way that people get into the island nation is undertaking work many locals don’t particularly relish. The dairy industry’s always looking for hard workers. And, hard work it is. Intensively farmed, expect very early mornings, very long days, and during calving season, total madness. It’s not unusual to work a farm of 3,000 cows with just four to five workers and a herd manager, an experienced source tells us.
New Zealand need not assist people on work permits
People who work on work permits usually get them renewed without too much hassle. It helps a lot if someone who lives there agrees on sponsorship. But, permanent residence takes a long time. As the Badenhorst family doesn’t yet qualify for permanent residence or citizenship, they can’t get assistance to get “home”. And, the farmers need their workers on hand during calving season. Very different from South Africa, they calve all at once.
While farmers run the bulls for a short time, mainly they do AI (artificial insemination) for replacement dairy stock. A closed-door on meat quotas on the sale of crossbreeds means limited time to calve. As the cows drop their calves, the staff rush out and bring them in. Then, the calves get hand-reared, preserving the bulk of the milk for human consumption. So right now, the Daily Mail noted, the Badenhorst family stresses as calving season needs them. They could lose their job if they don’t pitch up. For now, with New Zealand’s tight border control, the family lives in a shed.
South Africans working overseas
The 12 to 13-hour time zone difference makes it very hard for the kids. Remote schooling takes place in the wee hours of the night. New Zealand has no real obligation to assist as they currently remain South African citizens. Unemployed in South Africa and unable to return to their work in New Zealand leaves them high, dry, and helpless.
Like the Badenhorst’s, South Africans working overseas also got stuck. Many of them gathered in Frankfurt for a South African mercy flight a few months ago. The group comprised of highly skilled individuals of all creeds and colours. Top students studying post-grad degrees, engineers, teachers, musicians, sportsmen, mountain climbers, doctors, auditors, businesswomen, and a handful of unlucky tourists caught up in COVID-19.
South Africa could use more professionals and hard workers who remain here
What is disturbing about all these people who came home, is that once COVID-19 is over, most of them will pack up their skills and go away again. South Africa needs skilled people. South Africa needs its top graduates and hard workers. Taxing these people for earning money overseas is not addressing the real issue. The big issue is how can South Africa retain and utilise these skills?
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