An official in the South African Home Affairs Department has quashed swirling speculation and rumours that they will be introducing visas for Zimbabwean nationals wishing to travel to South Africa.
In an interview with Nehanda Radio on Saturday, Ronnie Mamoepa the Deputy Director General of Communication in the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa said he was not aware of any moves to re-introduce visas for Zimbabweans.
In response to enquiries, Mkuseli Apleni the Director General – Home Affairs gave the following response:
“The visa situation for Zimbabweans remains the same, and there has not been any changes. All changes and policy positions are published on the Department for Home Affairs website at http://www.dha.gov.za/. However, the Minister of Home Affairs has not issued any such statement, nor do we intend to do so. Please inform your readers that the visa situation remains the same.”
In October 2012, Zimbabwe and South Africa signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on migration which abolished visa requirements between the two countries, making it easy for citizens to cross borders with relative ease.
Three years before that the South African government had agreed to allow Zimbabweans to visit for 90 days without a visa and during this time they could seek temporary work. This they said was part of regional integration efforts.
Authorities said the relaxation in visa rules was to facilitate the legal movement of people between South Africa and Zimbabwe and strengthen efforts to fight human trafficking, human smuggling and other cross-border crimes.
An estimated three million Zimbabweans live in South Africa, many illegally. A large number fled political persecution and applied for asylum. But the South African government considers most of them to be economic migrants.
Three years ago undocumented Zimbabweans in South Africa were given the opportunity to apply for work, business or study permits. The SA Home Affairs Department received more than 270 000 applications.
The controversial re-election of Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party over the weekend has fueled concerns of a possible political and economic crisis that will once again push thousands of Zimbabweans to flock into South Africa in search of jobs and safety.