Mtawarira had been stopped from playing from the Springboks after the Sports Ministry in South Africa had recently issued a directive that no foreigner was allowed to represent the country in any sporting game.
“The ministry congratulates the Beast on his becoming a South African citizen, as well as the South African Rugby Union for acquiring his services,” sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile said in a statement.
In November last year Stofile accused sports federations of not respecting South African laws by choosing foreigners to represent national teams.
In an advertisment placed in several newspapers, the ministry said it was not good enough for Mtawarira to have been issued with an exceptional skills visa.
It accused the SA Rugby Union (Saru) of “vulgarising” the concept of exceptional or scarce skills. The ministry said sports federations could apply for work permits for a limited number of foreign players or administrators, but only if such applications were compellingly motivated.
The South African Rubgy Union (SARU) also applauded the move on Friday.
Mtawarira, affectionately known as the ‘Beast’ in rugby circles has been struggling to get a South African citizenship in the last few months after being dropped from the Springboks over his citizenship status.
It had to take the intervention of South Africa’s Home Affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to sort out Mtawarira papers, SARU said.The union said it was ‘gratified’ that the ‘Beast’ was now available for selection in future games.
“This is very gratifying news indeed and thanks to much hard work that has been going on behind the scenes over the past few months,”Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union said on the union’s website.
“I’d like to personally thank Minister Dlamini-Zuma for her intervention to assist in this matter. It had long been the Beast’s desire to become naturalised and he has had to endure some difficult times in recent months. He is now eligible for selection should he fit into the plans of the coach and national selectors.”
Mtawarira, a former Prince Edward and Peter House rugby prop plays for the Sharks in Durban.
Mtawarira had recently told the media that he had received offers from several countries but snubbed them, remaining hopeful that he will be re-admitted to play for the Springboks.
“I have received offers from all over the world with people wanting me to play for their countries but I see myself in South Africa for a long time and hope to play for the Springboks soon,” said Mtawarira.
Mtawarira said a lot of countries are interested in his talents because of his status as one of the best players in South Africa but he is not taking the offers seriously as he is in South Africa to stay.
“I am not taking these offers seriously, some are just rumours but I know a lot of people are interested in me because I am hotty in South Africa but for now I am in South Africa to stay,” said Mtawarira.
Mtawarira has represented South Africa in 22 test matches in which he distinguished himself well above expectations. He also carried the mantle of being one of the few black players who had held permanent positions in the team transforming the sport into a truly multi-racial sport.