The uni-visa regime between Zimbabwe and Zambia could be re-introduced by the end of March if negotiations for its return bear fruit, a senior immigration official has said. Dubbed the Kavango-Zambezi uni-visa, the regime was first introduced during the 2014 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly that Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosted but collapsed in December last year.After the general assembly, the two countries piloted the regime for several months with the idea of rolling it out across five countries in the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area to promote tourism.
The five countries include Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Department of Immigration principal director Clemence Masango said the regime collapsed due to logistical and legal reasons.
“Just before the end of December 2015, there was a logistical issue. First our counterparts Zambia ran out of stickers, but then as Zimbabwe we could not continue to issue (the visas) unilaterally. This is a joint exercise mutually agreed upon so we could not carry on. Then as we also came to December 31, our Memorandum of Understanding came to an end operationally, so legally and logistically those were the reasons,” he said.
“However, there are ongoing consultations and negotiations between the two countries so that we can re-institute the facility of the uni-visa as soon as possible.”
Mr Masango added; “I can assure you that if according to the briefing that I have, if nothing to the contrary happens we should be able to see the uni-visa up and running again by end of March.”
Zimbabwe last Thursday announced a new visa regime for 37 countries including China whose nationals have dominated neighbouring tourist destinations while Zimbabwe was missing out, in a move meant to increase tourist arrivals.
China along with 36 other countries including Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Algeria, Turkey and Cuba were moved from Category C to B whose nationals obtain visas at the port of entry on arrival. But for Chinese tourists only those travelling as a group and cleared by tour operators and travel agencies in that country would qualify.
Chinese business persons and other citizens of China as approved by their government will continue to apply for visas online.
Zimbabwe has also removed visa controls for all countries in the Southern African Development Community. – New Ziana.