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Concern over SA deadline for Zimbabweans

Letter from the Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)

Monday, July 26, 2009

Department of Home Affairs
The Minister of Home Affairs,
Her Excellency: Ms Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma
South Africa

C/O Chief Director: Mrs. Lindele Kgasi

You’re Excellency, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma

Deadline for Registration of Zimbabwean Nationals dated 31 July 2011

This letter serves to acknowledge the efforts of Department of Home Affairs for working together with the Civil Society Organizations, National Human Rights Institutions and Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to address the plight and challenges faced by non citizens in South Africa, especially asylum seekers, refugees and economic migrants.

Zimbabweans queue in SA to process their paperwork
Zimbabweans queue in SA to process their paperwork

Human Rights Institute of South Africa is of the view that the success to end xenophobia in the country depend largely on strengthened roles and efforts of the stakeholders. Notably the department has reaffirmed its commitment to upholding regional human standards in renouncing visa requirements for Zimbabwean nationals in January this year. 

However, HURISA and partners are concerned about the impracticability of the deadline set by the department to legalize the Zimbabwean nationals in the country by the 31st July 2011. We are particularly troubled that the department is threatening to go ahead with plans to deport those who have not been able to be registered as a result of flaws in its system.

In order to enable the Zimbabwean nationals to meet the deadline of the department a favourable environment must be created to enable a smooth process with proper mechanism to control and manage multitudes of non nationals standing in long queues at the main branch of the department consisting of families, women and children. Most of which, had walked long distances for weeks without sleep, with empty stomachs and compromised hygiene.

The six months period considered for the registration of Zimbabwean nationals had been inconsiderate and ignored many factors beyond the control of the applicants. Based on reasons mentioned above, HURISA and partners saw the imperative need to request the Honorable Minister to pass the following directives to the key unit of the department;

•        Extend the prescribed period legalizing the Zimbabwean Nationals from 31st July 2011 forthwith in order to deal with non nationals humanly as enshrined in the South African constitution, international and regional human rights standards

•        Continue to work with the CSOs, NHRIs and UNOHCR to built a country free from violence and hatred

•        Solicit partnership with stakeholders to overcome the huge backlog that debilitates the department from functioning effectively for treating non nationals with acceptable human rights standards respecting their human dignity,

•        Review the legalization process further, especially the measures placed to improve the internal system and reception areas as well as ensuring its premises are environmentally conducive to acceptable human rights standards

•        Suspend plans to deport Zimbabwean nationals as of 1st August 2011 until the political and human rights situation of that country subsides and a democratic government is elected.

•        Encourage the government to continue playing instrumental role in the mediation process in the SADC as well as holding the Principals of the  Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe accountable for defaulting to implement the Global Political Agreement at the upcoming SADC Summit held in August 2011 in Angola and to ensure there’s  free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

HURISA and partners are willing to engage key officials of the DoHA constructively to reach long lasting solution in attending to the situation of the Zimbabwean Nationals.  

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)