Government has lodged an official complaint with South African authorities over the inhuman treatment suffered by Zimbabweans being deported from that country.
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi yesterday said he engaged his South African counterpart Mr Malusi Gigaba on a recent visit to the neighbouring country and stressed the need to observe human rights when carrying out deportations.
Minister Mohadi said Zimbabwe and South Africa were signatories to two protocols that call for the respect of freedom of movement of persons within Sadc which saw member countries scrapping visas.
The other protocol allows anyone to get employment anywhere as long as they are in the region.
Cde Mohadi said he told Mr Gigaba that what was being done presently was not in the spirit of those protocols.
The South African government announced over the weekend that it was resuming the deportation of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe after a five-year moratorium.
“I did indicate to South Africa that the deportations are inhumane, in the first place,” said Cde Mohadi. “You don’t treat humans like that, round them up from the streets, bundle them in vans to Lindela Repatriation Centre and deport to Zimbabwe.
“I suggested that there be liaison between us through our consulate in Johannesburg and authorities there that the consular has access to the people at Lindela firstly to verify if they are Zimbabweans. They (deportees) will then make representations because you realise that those who have just arrived and those who have been working in South Africa for a long time, some with families, are rounded up. It would be better to let them talk to their families and get their property.”
Cde Mohadi said after engaging Mr Gigaba, he had not received any untoward report from the consular on the deportations.
He said besides the deportations, he discussed the renewal of work permits under a special dispensation and the possibility of new registrations.
In 2010, South Africa registered about 245 000 Zimbabweans under the Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSP) programme.
The permits are due to expire in December, but the South African government has opened a window for renewals for a further four years.
Cde Mohadi said: “Of these three areas, the South Africans didn’t agree on issuing new permits, but did not close the door to negotiation. We believe that quite a number of Zimbabweans in South Africa didn’t take advantage of the first exercise because they doubted the sincerity of the programme.
“Some did not trust the process thinking that it was some exercise to establish how many Zimbabweans were in that country so that they are rounded up and deported.
“Now that they realised that the process was genuine, they have interest. I still want dialogue on how documentation of those people can be done.”