III. Recommendations

To the Government of South Africa

In relation to all Zimbabweans in South Africa

  • Use section 31(2)(b) of the 2002 Immigration Act to introduce a new “temporary immigration exemption status for Zimbabweans” (TIES) which allows Zimbabweans to legally enter South Africa, regularizes their status, ends deportations of Zimbabweans, and grants them the right to work in South Africa.

  • Cooperate closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to put in place a registration system for the new status.

  • Ensure that all deportations of Zimbabweans are stopped pending implementation of this new status.

  • In accordance with the South African Constitution, ensure that all Zimbabweans in need of emergency and basic medical care, including those in need of anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and tuberculosis (TB) treatment, have access to such care.

  • Ensure that the most vulnerable Zimbabweans, such as unaccompanied children, the elderly, and the most sick (including the most vulnerable PLWHA) are provided with other forms of emergency assistance such as food and social welfare assistance.

  • Engage in a public information campaign to demonstrate to the South African people that:

    - Zimbabweans’ decision to leave their country and come to South Africa is fundamentally involuntary;

    - the deportation of Zimbabweans is ineffective and a waste of tax payers’ money;

    - the simplest, fairest, and most effective way to address the humanitarian needs of Zimbabweans in South Africa is to allow Zimbabweans to fend for themselves through giving them the right to work; and that

    - a regulated Zimbabwean work force will not undercut wages and opportunities for South African workers.

  • End its discredited “quiet diplomacy” approach pursued since March 2007 as SADC-sponsored mediator between the MDC and ZANU-PF, and urgently play a central role within the African Union (AU) and SADC to pressure the Zimbabwean authorities to end the current violence and their destruction of the democratic process.

  • In relation to Zimbabwean asylum seekers in South Africa

  • Take immediate steps to ensure that no Zimbabwean asylum seekers, including those fleeing the 2008 post-election repression and violence, are deported from South Africa.

  • Officially recognize that despite ongoing reforms, the current dysfunctional state of the asylum system and deportation practices combine to create a high risk of refoulement for Zimbabweans.

  • Ensure that Zimbabweans are given adequate documentation at all stages of the asylum process to protect them against arrest, detention, and deportation.

  • Use the opportunity provided by the current reforms to the asylum system to cooperate with UNHCR and South African nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure that Refugee Status Determination Officers receive regular and in-depth training on international refugee law, including ongoing on-the-job training.

  • Ensure that directors of the five Refugee Reception Offices and all Refugee Status Determination Officers interviewing Zimbabweans who have been targeted by Operation Murambatsvina are instructed to consider such people as having, as a matter of principle, strong asylum claims and to ensure that they interview such applicants in-depth in order to establish their potential claim.

  • If the proposed “temporary immigration exemption status for Zimbabweans” is not adopted, create a specific team of Refugee Status Determination Officers in each of South Africa’s five Refugee Reception Offices with the specific task and expertise required to review asylum claims by people directly targeted by Operation Murambatsvina.

  • To UNHCR in South Africa

  • Assist the Department of Home Affairs in establishing a new “temporary immigration exemption status for Zimbabweans,” in particular through registration procedures.

  • Recognize that people targeted by Operation Murambatsvina have strong prima facie claims to refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

  • Work in close cooperation with the Department of Home Affairs and South African civil society to provide regular and in-depth training to Refugee Status Determination Officers in international refugee law, including to special teams focusing on asylum claims made by people targeted by Operation Murambatsvina.

  • To international donors

  • Encourage the Government of South Africa to introduce a new “temporary immigration exemption status for Zimbabweans” (TIES).

  • Provide financial and technical assistance to the government of South Africa to put in place systems to help implement the new status.

  • Provide financial assistance to UNHCR and South African civil society to assist them to provide regular in-depth training to Refugee Status Determination Officers in refugee law.

  • Provide the South African government with financial assistance to ensure that particularly vulnerable Zimbabweans, such as unaccompanied children and the very sick, have access to medical care and food.

  • Provide all necessary support to Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) governments to assure continuity of care for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and tuberculosis (TB) patients on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and Directly Observed Therapy, Short-Course (DOTS) treatment who move between states, and to ensure synchronization of standards (e.g. recognition of medical tests) and remove eligibility barriers for donor-supported treatment.