ZIMBABWE and South Africa on Wednesday agreed to permanently abolish visa requirements for citizens travelling between the two countries.
Report by Staff Reporter
Scrapping of the permit requirements follows the suspension of visas in 2010 which was replaced by a 90-day authorisation for Zimbabweans visiting South Africa.
Media reports from South Africa yesterday indicated the agreement to permanently scrap visa requirements was recently signed between Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and his counterpart Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
“The MoU (memorandum of understanding) basically abolishes visa requirements between our two countries, making it easy for our citizens to cross our borders,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.
Almost three years ago, South Africa agreed to allow Zimbabweans to visit for 90 days without a visa as part of regional integration efforts.
Home Affairs co-minister Theresa Makone yesterday confirmed the termination of visa requirements.
“As far as I know, the suspension of the visa meant that there would be no need for a visa for anyone travelling from Zimbabwe to South Africa. There was no way the suspension was going to be lifted,” Makone said.
She, however, said she was not aware of the MoU that was signed to permanently abolish visa requirements.
“I am not aware of any signing of an MoU. As far as I know, there is no need to sign anything because we do not need visas to travel to South Africa,” Makone said.
An estimated three million Zimbabweans are believed to be living and working in South Africa with the majority having crossed into the country illegally.
A large number claimed they were fleeing political persecution and sought asylum. However, South Africa considers most of them economic migrants.
Two 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.