Thursday, May 20, 2010

(HERALD) Zim, SA still deadlocked over TTDs

Zim, SA still deadlocked over TTDs
Herald Reporter

Zimbabwean and South African officials have failed to agree on the recently introduced Temporary Travel Document and the matter could now have to be handled by the two countries’ Home Affairs ministers.

Indications are that the disagreement could stem from the security features on the travel document. Zimbabwe introduced TTDs last month to replace the Emergency Travel Documents, which were easy to fake.

However, South African officials at Beitbridge Border Post have refused to accept the new document though other regional countries have seen nothing wrong with it.

Secretary for Home Affairs Mr Melusi Matshiya yesterday told Senate’s Thematic Committee on Peace and Security that talks to reach an agreement with their South African counterparts had collapsed.

"The Department of the Registrar-General advised embassies that we had changed from the ETD to the TTD and the South Africans were the first ones to be notified of the changes.

"All the internationally accepted practices were followed. If the Government recognises that document, then it is an acceptable document.

"You don’t have to subordinate yourselves to others and reveal your security features," he said.

Mr Matshiya added: "As far as I know, the position has not changed. We have talked to the (South African) embassy and this week our officials were at their embassy.

"At this moment, I would recommend that the two (Home Affairs) ministers talk to their South African counterpart because at a technical level it has failed."

The TTD has enhanced security features following an increa-se in the number of forged ETDs.

The rejection has seen South African-bound public transporters refusing to accept bookings from passengers in possession of the new document.

A senior official in Pretoria yesterday reiterated that the impasse was over procedural issues.

South African Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson Mr Ronnie Mamoepa said: "The TTD was introduced without forewarning. I cannot give you any more information about government-to-government discussions."

Yesterday, Zimbabweans using TTDs were still being turned away at Beitbridge.

Assistant regional immigration officer (southern region) Mr Charles Gwede said: "South African officials have indicated that they are still waiting for feedback from Pretoria.

"We are also waiting for a directive from Harare on how to proceed."

Meanwhile, the principal director in the immigration department, Mr Clement Masango, yesterday said they had started computerising their Harare International Airport, Victoria Falls Airport and Beitbridge Border Post offices to detect fraudulent documents.

Appearing before the Senate Thematic Committee on Peace and Security, Mr Masango said they wanted to spruce up their operations ahead of the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup in South Africa that starts next month.

"I have secured funding to computerise ahead of time for the World Cup tournament and it is being done at Beitbridge, Harare and Victoria Falls.

"Funding allowing, we would have wanted to computerise more stations," he said.

Mr Masango said officials from the department were undergoing training to familiarise themselves with the new equipment.

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