South Africa speaks on visas


SOUTH Africa yesterday moved to quell speculation on social media that it was contemplating reintroducing travel visas for Zimbabwean visitors.

Report by Chief Reporter

People writing on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook claimed that from this week the South Africans would be demanding R5 000 from Zimbabwean visitors to secure visas.

Zimbabwe’s controversial elections that saw Zanu PF registering a landslide victory were cited as the reasons for the alleged move by South Africa.

But Mac Maharaj, South African President Jacob Zuma’s spokesperson told Southern Eye the reports were not true.

“We have also picked that up,” he said. “However, the best people to shed more light on the visa issue are our Home Affairs Department. But as far as I know, nothing has changed.”

Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni told a UK-based Zimbabwe website that South Africa had no immediate plans to re-introduce the visas.

“The visa situation for Zimbabweans remains the same and there has not been any changes,” he said.

“The Home Affairs minister has not issued any such statement, nor do we intend to do so.

“Please inform your readers that the visa situation remains the same.”

An SABC journalist Maswele Ralebona twitted that Zimbabweans said they intended to flock to South Africa after President Robert Mugabe was declared winner of Wednesday’s elections.

“On the streets of Bulawayo and surroundings, people shout when they see an SABC news car ‘tell your people we are coming back to SA’,” he wrote on Saturday.

In 2012, the Zimbabwe and South Africa agreed to permanently abolish visa requirements for citizens travelling between the two countries.

It followed the suspension of visas in 2010, which was replaced by a 90-day authorisation for Zimbabweans visiting South Africa.