Zimbabwe and South Africa will soon re-engage to afford illegal immigrants yet another chance to regularise their stay in SA, Home Affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi said yesterday.
Addressing journalists after touring the Beitbridge border post with Finance minister Tendai Biti, Mohadi said Zimbabweans had shied away from the first exercise suspecting it was a trap.
“Last year we engaged the South African government on regularising our people, but many were initially suspicious. They thought that we wanted to arrest them. But they are now coming up in large numbers and we hope we will be able to have them regularised,” he said.
He said the process also failed to deal with as many people as would have been expected because of the large number of people that needed the permits.
This time around he said he hoped Zimbabweans living in South Africa would come forward to register in their numbers.
“We are going to engage them (South Africa) early next year to get into the second phase.”
Between May 5, 2009 and July 31, 2011, the South African government gave Zimbabweans living in that country temporary deportation reprieve while it engaged in a process to regularise their stay.
During that period, Zimbabweans with passports were encouraged to come forward and apply for four-year work, study and living permits in that country.
The South African Home Affairs department has said it managed to process 275 000 permits out of an estimated 2 million Zimbabweans living there.
The South African government started deporting Zimbabweans on October 7, 2011 – a day that marked the end of the deportation moratorium and since then, thousands of Zimbabweans have been deported.