Govt withdraws special policy for Zimbabweans

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pretoria - Undocumented Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa will no longer receive special treatment following Cabinet's decision to withdraw the special dispensation policy for Zimbabweans.

Currently, officials are prevented from deporting or arresting undocumented Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa irrespective of their legal status.

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko, however, told a media briefing on Thursday that the special dispensation, introduced in April last year, will end on 31 December and all Zimbabweans living in South Africa after that date will be treated like any other foreign nationals.

"The decision seeks to ensure that all foreign nationals who reside in South Africa are documented and their presence is regularised. After the 31 of December all undocumented Zimbabweans will be treated like all others and their deportation will resume," Maseko said.

This decision follows a bilateral agreement between the Ministers of Home Affairs from South Africa and Zimbabwe.

He said Zimbabwean nationals who are working, conducting business or studying in South Africa will be issued with permits provided they have valid Zimbabwean documents.

There will further be an amnesty for the Zimbabweans who may have obtained South African identification documents fraudulently on condition that such documents are returned to the Home Affairs Department.

Maseko said the two governments will establish a joint "monitoring and evaluation" committee that would see the effective implementation of the process.

The issuing of the various permits will commence between now and 31 December and the deportation of undocumented Zimbabweans will resume after this date. A similar process will be initiated for nationals from other neighbouring countries in the future.