Tuesday, November 27, 2007

(HERALD) SA unveils multiple entry permit for Zim traders

SA unveils multiple entry permit for Zim traders
Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWEAN cross-border traders intending to travel to South Africa for business may now be eligible for a 12-month multiple entry permit as long as they belong to a bona fide association or a body representing small and medium-scale enterprises. They must also have proof of sufficient financial means equivalent to R2 000, and a passport valid for not less than 30 days after the expiry of the permit.

Each visit should not exceed 30 days for permits valid for entries of more than 12 months. If all the stipulated requirements are met, the permit may be acquired within five working days. Before this arrangement, cross-border traders were being treated as ordinary visitors and would find it difficult to conduct their business. But this multiple entry permit gives them a status better than that of an ordinary visitor.

Principal chief immigration officer Mr Clemence Masango yesterday said he received official confirmation from their South African counterparts last Tuesday, informing them about these conditions.

"As immigration officials, we are, however, yet to meet the South African officials to discuss the implementation modalities of this cross-border traders’ facility," he said.

A letter written by Ms Mofokoane of the South African National Immigration Branch to Mr Masango reads in part: "Please be informed that in consultation with head office (National Immigration Branch in Pretoria, South Africa), it has been agreed that the following requirements will suffice to issue permits to members of the Zimbabwe Cross-border Traders’ Association and/or SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

"In the absence of proof of membership (of the Cross-border Traders’ Association or an association of SMEs), every person in the street will declare themselves as ware traders. In order to curb abuse of this dispensation, please furnish us (South African Embassy) with a list of names and membership numbers.

"Your register should collate with records to suit the embassy."

This development follows talks between the two countries a fortnight ago under the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security in South Africa.

During the talks, the two countries deliberated on the stringent requirements for Zimbabweans intending to travel down south to have a letter of invitation, pay visa fees, provide proof of ability to sustain oneself there and security deposit fees.

In October last year, South Africa tightened its visa requirements and announced that Zimbabwean travellers needed to pay a security deposit in Zimbabwean dollars depending on the destination, have travellers’ cheques amounting to R2 000 and produce a letter of invitation from the person or organisation inviting them to that country, among other requirements.

Applicants were also required to submit an affidavit and copies of identification documents of the persons inviting them to South Africa.

The security deposit, which would be refundable at the expiry of the visa or once one returned to Zimbabwe, used to be applicable to first-time visitors only, but had been extended to all travellers.

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