Aupindi demands entry fees in response to UK visa change
Aupindi made the comments in the National Assembly on the discussion on the Appropriation Bill.
Aupindi’s call follows a decision taken by the United Kingdom (UK) earlier in July to remove visa-free conditions for Namibians entering that country. Prior to that, Namibians enjoyed visa-free entry into the UK.
“I would want to propose entry fees for all the countries that require Namibians to have visas when travelling to their countries, because now they come here and enter for free while we are paying exorbitant fees just to enter their countries,” he said.
Aupindi cited an example where a country was able to generate excessive revenues because it required visitors to pay for their visas to allow them entry into that country.
“In one particular African country, 2 million of its citizens applied for a visitors visa for a particular western country, and it cost US$250 (N$4 890) per application, irrespective of whether the application was successful or not,” Aupindi said.
“Only about 5 000 applicants were approved, but this foreign government made US$500 million per year. So we must introduce entry fees even if that country does not require a visa,” he added.
Aupindi likened the decision taken by the UK to require Namibians to have a visa upon entry as akin to bullying.
“I did say in a local daily that such a decision by the UK could be considered a bullying tactic by a big brother, acting outside the parameters of a good bilateral relationship without a recourse on the impact that such a decision will have on ordinary Namibians travelling to the UK either as tourists or for business, and I called on the Namibian government to offer the British reciprocity on the same with immediate effect,” he said.
The UK said its decision to revoke visa-free entry for Namibians was due to an abuse of its immigration controls. Prior to that, Namibians were allowed visa-free entry into the UK for a period of up to 90 days.
“The UK government has announced today that, with immediate effect, all Namibian nationals will need a visa before travelling to the UK, including to visit,” a statement issued by the British High Commission in Windhoek said.
The UK said it noted a strong uptick in UK asylum applications by Namibians since 2016.