/ 27 November 2007

SA unveils multiple entry permit for Zim traders

Cross-border traders from Zimbabwe intending to travel to South Africa for business may now be eligible for a 12-month multiple entry permit, the state controlled Herald reported on Tuesday.

A permit would be granted as long as they belonged to a bona fide association or a body representing small and medium-scale enterprises, the newspaper said.

”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,” the newspaper said.

Each visit should not exceed 30 days for permits valid for entries of more than 12 months.

If the stipulated requirements are met, the permit may be acquired within five working days, the Herald reported.

Before this arrangement, cross-border traders were being treated as ordinary visitors and were finding it difficult to conduct their business, the report said.

”But this multiple entry permit gives them a status better than that of an ordinary visitor.”

Principal chief immigration officer Clemence Masango told the paper that he had received official confirmation from SA.

”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 the South African national immigration branch to Masango read, 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.”

The development followed talks between the two countries two weeks ago under the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security in South Africa, the paper said. – Sapa