Home Affairs undermining Zimbabweans’ rights: DA

2010-11-10 13:03

Home affairs was violating the rights of Zimbabwean refugees seeking to regularise their stay in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance (DA) claimed today, and which government denied.

DA spokesperson Annette Lovemore said Zimbabweans who applied for residency were forced to forego their asylum-seeker status, leaving them vulnerable to deportation should they be turned down.

This was in direct contradiction to a 2008 high court ruling that home affairs could not require foreigners to renounce their asylum seeker permits when they applied for residency, she said.

Home affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said there was no policy to force Zimbabweans to choose between applying for residency or asylum.

“This is not true, they don’t lose their asylum seeker status.

There’s no deportation,” he said.

He also denied a claim by Lawyers for Human Rights that Zimbabweans seeking information at police stations on home affairs’ drive to regularise their status had been arrested on the spot.

The campaign was launched this spring, following a decision to end the special visa dispensation for Zimbabweans after the political situation in the neighbouring state stabilised.

Last month, then deputy home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba warned that Zimbabweans who missed the December 31 deadline to apply for residency, and instead insisted on seeking asylum status, ran the risk of deportation.

The department is battling a backlog of 100 000 asylum applications and believes that most applicants are in fact economic migrants. The majority of those who arrived in recent years are from Zimbabwe.

Parliament is processing the Refugee Amendment Bill, which seeks to streamline the appeal process for failed applicants, and prevent economic migrants from exploiting it to remain in the country indefinitely.


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