By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
28 May 2014
The South Africa government on Monday started implementing sweeping changes to its immigrations laws, some of which will affect millions of Zimbabweans who flock there for better life.
The changes are meant to curb violations in visa-applications and habitual overstaying.
Mutsa Murenje, the MDC-T South Africa secretary for policy and research, told our weekly Hidden Story program the shift in policy will affect Zimbabweans as they seek political and economic refuge in the neighbouring country.
He said the new regulations will affect foreign national wishing to work, study or run businesses. Under the new immigration laws, exceptional skills permits would no longer exist. Under the old policy, sportsmen and women, artistes, medical practitioners, engineers and pilots could enter the country on an exceptional skills permit, regardless of whether they had secured employment or not.
Murenje said according to the new regime, habitual over-stayers of visas or permits, who until Monday have been allowed to re-enter and reapply for further permits on condition they settled their outstanding fines, would now be banned from future entry into the country.
First-time offenders, who overstay for less than 30 days, would be banned from entering South Africa for one year, while second-time offenders who overstay by the same period get a two-year ban and those that overstay for a period exceeding 30 days are banned for five years.
‘We are in discussions as Zimbabweans in South Africa to try and engage the government over the new set of rules. We strongly feel the new regulations are unconstitutional and have been implemented too hastily,’ Murenje said.