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South Africa to close 10 overseas diplomatic missions. Image: Adobe Stock

Travel alert: SA to cancel consular services in 10 major international centres

South Africans abroad will not be able to access in-country diplomatic services in several locations, which have been earmarked for closure.

SA passport

South Africa to close 10 overseas diplomatic missions. Image: Adobe Stock

When travelling abroad, things can sometimes go wrong.  South Africans may need to replace lost or stolen passports or seek consular services in countries they visit. The presence of a South African overseas mission is both comforting and convenient in such situations.

South African nationals travelling or living abroad will soon no longer be able to access consular or diplomatic services provided by South African embassies, consulates or high commissions in a number of foreign countries.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor announced on Thursday 20 May the closure of 10 of the country’s overseas diplomatic missions.

Addressing journalists before presenting her department’s budget to parliament on Thursday afternoon, Pandor stated that cost-cutting measures demanded that the country close a number of its overseas diplomatic missions.

FINANCIAL FACTORS FORCES CLOSURES  

Pandor announced on Thursday that her department had taken a decision to close a number of diplomatic missions in response to South Africa’s economic situation, which has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Times Live, the Minister said that her department was faced with the financial challenge of having to “do more with less”.   Her department’s budget for the current financial year has been cut from over R7 billion to just under R6.5 billion.

“Unfortunately, we cannot continue to spend money that we do not have. We need to act quickly and in unison in dealing with this complex challenge,” said Pandor, as quoted in Times Live.

SA MISSIONS ABROAD TO BE CLOSED

The minister stated that 10 of South Africa’s overseas embassies, consulates and high commissions would be systematically closed during the 2021/2022 financial year.  Pandor said the missions that will be closed include the following :

  • Minsk (Belarus)
  • Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Holy See (Vatican State)
  • Helsinki (Finland)
  • Milan (Italy)
  • Muscat (Oman)
  • Suva (Fiji)
  • Lima (Peru)
  • Bucharest (Romania)
  • Chicago (US)

“All affected stakeholders are advised to check with the affected embassies and consulate general on the exact dates of termination of services,” Pandor said.

CLOSURES WILL AFFECT SOUTH AFRICANS

The minister said the decision to close the mentioned overseas diplomatic missions was regrettable but necessary given the budgetary constraints faced by her department.

South Africans requiring diplomatic assistance while visiting or residing in the affected locations will soon be required to make use of the country’s non-resident diplomatic missions once the affected ones have closed.  

“We wish to assure South African citizens resident abroad, businesses and tourists that a smooth transfer of civic and immigration services to non-resident missions is under way. ” the Minister said.

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