Nqabutho Dube of the MDC told The Sunday Times said it was important for Zimbabweans to return home for the elections.His comments come in the wake of reports that more than 40 000 of the 275 000 Zimbabweans who applied have already received their permits.
“We are encouraging Zimbabweans to participate in the upcoming elections. We did an analysis at the Beitbridge border in 2002 which showed that 200 000 people crossed into the country from South Africa during the weekend of the elections and believe it is possible for Zimbabweans in South Africa to come home to vote,” said Dube.
He said the challenge was that they were not aware of the exact date on which the elections would be held.
“The population of Zimbabweans in South Africa is about three million and only 275 000 applied for permits. We wonder what’s happening with the other two
million, which means there will be a challenge reaching them with the election message. They need to return home and vote,” he said.
Dube said as a committee, they were also working hard to engage the South African authorities to safeguard the investments of Zimbabweans in that country who had acquired properties using fraudulently obtained SA documents.Dube said the director-general of Home Affairs in South Africa, Mkhuseli Apleni, met with Zimbabwe’s ambassador to that country and came to an agreement on how they could help Zimbabwe in processing passports to speed up the documentation process.
The SA government announced that the process would be completed by July and deportations would resume in August.
“Deportations will resume on August 1 and those caught with fake South African identity documents will be charged with fraud and face a jail term of 15 years according to a bill that is before the South African parliament,” Dube said.
He said they were now engaging the SA government on the issue of traders. The government had said it was still reviewing this issue because currently they are allowed to be in the country for only 90 days per year.The whole documentation process started when Zimbabweans started using SA passports to go to countries such as the UK and US.
“The South African Home Affairs noticed this trend and when the Zimbabweans reached the diaspora they applied for citizenship as Zimbabweans despite using SA documents. Thus they had to clean up their Home Affairs which led to the withdrawal of 5 000 passports at the Beitbridge border post in December 2009.
“Those who failed to produce proof that they were South Africans were charged with fraud,” he said.
Dube said that then his party approached the South African government and convinced them not to charge these people and instead offer them amnesty to regularise their stay.His party was in the forefront of the negotiations with the South Africans who then agreed to grant the Zimbabweans amnesty, which expired on December 31 last year.