South Africa says undocumented Zimbabweans should go home

20:58, December 21, 2010      

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Undocumented Zimbabweans who have been denied study, work and business permits should "go home" before they are deported, South African home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told Johannesburg's New Age newspaper on Tuesday.

Zimbabweans in South Africa have been given until Dec. 31 to get their documents in order.

While South Africa's home affairs department estimates that there are 1.5 million Zimbabweans in South Africa, nongovernmental organizations say there are about three million.

In an interview with The New Age, the minister warned that if undocumented Zimbabweans do not apply before the deadline, they would most certainly face deportation.

Dlamini-Zuma appealed to more than 5,000 Zimbabweans whose applications have been refused, especially those who have a criminal record or are unemployed, to go home to Zimbabwe.

"If somebody doesn't have a job and they are not running from persecution from their country, if they can live in South Africa without a job it means they can live in Zimbabwe without a job," she said.

Dlamini-Zuma asked why such people want to come to South Africa, and why they want to continue in South Africa if they are not studying.

"They don't have a job and they are not doing any business, they are doing nothing so let them go and do nothing at home," said Dlamini-Zuma.

She said the Zimbabwean authorities are experiencing serious problems because they can only print 500 passports a day, while the backlog of applications from Zimbabweans in South Africa is 40, 000.

The South African minister said the Zimbabwean authorities have asked for assistance but South Africa is very reluctant to move from the Dec. 31 deadline.

Dlamini-Zuma said that Zimbabweans had between April 2009 and April 2010 to regularize their stay in South Africa.

South Africa could not allow unemployed Zimbabweans to stay in the country.

She said South Africans who go to other countries and must either be joining their parents, studying, working or have businesses. "But you can't just say I want to go and live in New Zealand and do nothing, the New Zealanders won't allow you to do that."

She said South Africa wants to regularize those people who are doing something. "If you have a criminal record why should we keep you here when you have your own home because it means that you have come here to do crime? We don't want that and I think it' s fair," she said.

Only applications from Zimbabweans who applied before the Dec. 31 deadline would be considered, she said, warning that her department would not "open the door for anyone else".

Source: Xinhua
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