Zimbabweans home for christmas won't be allowed back in South Africa – Sources

Zimbabwean holiday makers say South African immigration officials are turning back hundreds of Zimbabweans at the Beitbridge Border Post. 

The border is already heavily congested with holiday traffic but disappointed travellers say their holidays have been ruined.

Immigration officials are turning back Zimbabweans trying to cross using emergency travel documents instead of passports. They are being cleared by Zimbabwean immigration but the trouble comes once they reach the South African side.

Officials do not like the fact many of the ETD’s have been altered by hand. ETD’s used to only be valid for 21 days but since South Africa started allowing Zimbabweans a six month stay, officials have extended the validity of ETD’s, often by hand.  

Zimbabwe’s co-Minister of Home affairs Kembo Mohadi said his secretary is trying to make contact with South African authorities.

Mohadi said Zimbabwean travellers are having their holidays spoilt.

But sources in Zimbabwe and South African security and intelligence services have told our reporter that the two countries have targeted the festive period for "clear out" with those travelling for shopping being barred for entry and those returning after holidays also facing similar treatment.

The plan was devised in November, 2009, in Harare, when Zimbabwe Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa met with his South African counter-part, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu who was leading a delegation of Ministers from his country for the fourth session of the Zimbabwe-South Africa Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security.

The Permanent Commission evaluated progress made by both countries since the third meeting held in South Africa in November 2007.

The Commission looked at common issues of Defence and Security, among them progress on de-mining the Great Limpopo Transfonteir Park, coordinated patrols along the border, preparation and launch of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Standby Brigade, exchange programmes and cooperation during the 2010 World Cup and efficient border management.

The Commission also looked at counter drug trafficking measures, prevention of stock theft, joint operations to stop armed robberies, management of deportation and Beitbridge border post efficiency.

The South Africa delegation also included the Ministers of Correctional Services Nosiviwe Maphisa Nqakula, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of State Security Dr Siyabonga Cwele, Deputy Minister of Justice A Nel and Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thabang Makwetla.

Emmerson Mnangagwa led the Zimbabwean delegation and he was joined by Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Didymus Mutasa and Security forces Generals.

South African government of former President Thabo Mbeki, over the years, refused to declare Zimbabwean asylum seekers as refugees, rather calling them economic migrants, in order to keep out United Nations involvement in the affairs of Zimbabwe, and hence own up to the situation whenever the matter came up for discussion in the Security Council.