Withdrawal of special dispensation in interest of region

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pretoria - The decision to withdraw the special dispensation for Zimbabweans living in South Africa is part of efforts to ensure that all foreign nationals residing in South Africa are documented and their presence regularised.

This is according to International Relations and Cooperation's Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who was answering questions from the media during a briefing on Thursday.

Nkoana-Mashabane said the decision to ensure legitimate travellers are legally documented was in the interest of the region.

She added that it should not be seen as chasing away Zimbabweans or any other nationality in the country but rather the acceleration of trade and tourism in the region.

Earlier in the day, government announced that Cabinet had approved a proposal to end the special dispensation for Zimbabwean nationals introduced in April 2009, following a bilateral agreement between the South African and the Zimbabwean Ministers of Home Affairs.

The special dispensation is to end on 31 December and all Zimbabweans who have not had their presence in South Africa formalised by then will be deported.

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

Those who are in the country illegally without any documents will be given a period between now and the end of December to sort out their documentation with the Zimbabwean authorities and with Home Affairs and after this date anybody who does not have any form of permit to be in the country will be deported.

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