Zim Diaspora

Aug 20th
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Asylum seekers to get work permit

South Africa - Deputy Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, says plans are at an advanced stage to issue Zimbabweans, who have entered South Africa to seek political asylum and employment, with a "special dispensation" permit.

The permit will give them the right to stay in South Africa for six months, the right to schooling or education, and the right to work and access basic health care. Gigaba was speaking at the launch of the regional 2009 UN Human Development Report in Johannesburg today, which focuses on Human Mobility and development.

 The regional 2009 Human Development Report recognises that South Africa is still a destination of choice for African migrants, especially those from the sub-Saharan region. The influx of immigrants, especially from Zimbabwe, has, however, raised concerns about an increase in crime and higher levels of unemployment in the country.

Gigaba says government has introduced a package of policies and interventions to assist in managing not only domestic affairs but migration as well. This also includes the special dispensation for Zimbabwean nationals, a process which is yet to be finalised. The deputy minister says the migration patterns between the two countries would never be stopped, and all authorities need to do is encourage regular movement through the ports of entry to ensure the safety and security of the travellers.

Biometric data registration of migrants

Other policy interventions also include the biometric data registration of migrants. The new project will take effect during the 2010 Soccer World Cup and then be rolled out to all areas of Home Affairs. Gigaba says the process is crucial as it will also assist with the process to de-mystify concepts around those who are involved in crime.

On the home front government also wants a complete database of all South Africans. Many do not have birth certificates and this compromises the Identification Document process. Gigaba says from now on, government wants all new born babies to be registered shortly after birth. He says the departments of Home Affairs and Health are co-operating to increase connectivity at hospitals and clinics.

The UN report states that migration can bring large gains for human development, as the migrants can boost economic output and generate other gains at little or no cost to locals. Gigaba says migrants could be very useful in helping South Africa with its skills shortage. The Human Development Report, however, points to the fact that many restrictions and inequalities prevent Africans from moving.

Policies at home, along the way and at destinations all constrain human mobility and reduce its potential to enhance human development. One of the presenters of the UNDP report, Dr Tegenewok Gettu, says governments must simplify and liberalise current policies around migration. Gigaba says government is consulting on a regular basis with research companies, UN agencies and international organizations on how best to implement the envisaged amendments to current policy. SABC