PUBLISHED: 2010/06/17 06:50:10 AM
ZIMBABWE is lobbying SA to issue birth certificates to children born of Zimbabwean parents living in SA, a request that could add to the Department of Home Affairs’ workload.
That request was expected to be discussed today when Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma meets her two Zimbabwean counterparts, the co- ministers of home affairs , Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa.
Mr Mutsekwa confirmed that this was on the agenda but declined to give details. “As a ministry there is something that we are doing in that regard, but I don’t want to issue a press statement until I have met my counterpart in SA ,” he said.
Immigration lawyer Chris Watters said while children born of foreign parents were entitled to a birth certificate, it did not make them South African, but merely recorded their birth. However, undocumented migrants often did not present themselves for this process for fear of deportation.
The head of the University of the Witwatersrand’s forced migration studies programme, Loren Landau, said even South Africans often struggled to get birth certificates. “The truth is many foreigners are not getting them and there is no reason why they shouldn’t,” she said.
Dual citizenship for Zimbabweans in SA could be in the interests of the Movement for Democratic Change and would be an acknowledgment that the recent wave of Zimbabwean emigration to SA was irreversible. But SA was unlikely to be moved by the proposal since Zimbabwe did not recognise dual citizenship and had failed to protect South African farmers in renewed violence against commercial farmers in Zimbabwe.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has said today’s meeting will look into “everything” pertaining to immigration between the two countries but declined to give details.
Two years ago, at the height of the crisis in Zimbabwe , SA introduced a “special dispensation” allowing undocumented Zimbabweans to live and work in SA. But this dispensation appears to have collapsed due to lack of political support. It has also been overshadowed by the granting of 90-day visa-free status to Zimbabweans.
The Zimbabwean delegation was likely to push for recognition of that country’s “temporary travel document”, a one-page document in place of a passport. SA has refused entry to bearers of such documents on security grounds.