ZIMBABWEANS living in South Africa are due to engage Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi in a consultative forum over the new stringent visa regime introduced by the neighbouring country.
The meeting has been tentatively set for the South African capital Pretoria next Thursday.
Chairperson of the newly-formed Zimbabwe Community in South Africa Ngqabutho Mabhena yesterday said his group wanted to compare notes with Mohadi before he engages his South African counterpart Malusi Gigaba today.
“We had a meeting on Wednesday with the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa to compare notes on the current new visa regime,” Mabhena said.
“During that engagement, we presented our proposals to embassy staff which we want to also share with Mohadi. We proposed that the South African government should consider issuing a one or two-year migrant worker permit which could be renewed.
“We also proposed that when the permits are renewed, Zimbabweans should not be forced to apply for them while in Zimbabwe, but here in South Africa. This is to ensure that they safeguard their jobs,” said Mabhena in a telephone interview from Johannesburg.
Last month, Mabhena held informal discussions with the ruling tripartite alliance, African National Congress’s international relations department and the Congress of South African Trade Unions and South African Communist Party over the controversial new permit regime.
The new stringent immigration regulations would see Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals who overstay being banned from entering South Africa as it tightens immigration regulations.
All along, those who overstayed were allowed to re-enter South Africa and apply for permits and visas after being made to pay fines. From now those who overstay their allocated time would be banned for a period ranging from one to five years.
The South African government has also released a list of critical skills that country needs wherein foreigners are qualified to apply for work visas, but the challenge is that most Zimbabweans living in that country have no special skills.
This means that they would be left at the mercy of immigration authorities and may face deportation.
Of the Zimbabweans living in South Africa, 250 000 who benefited from the Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans programme are not necessarily in possession of any critical skills, meaning that they could be left out in the 35 000 critical job list released by the neighbouring country’s government.