Report: SA could use Zim migrants' skills

South Africa could be making better use of Zimbabwean migrants’ skills but current immigration policy makes it difficult, according to a report released by the Centre for Development and Enterprises on Wednesday.

Profiling Zimbabweans in South Africa, researchers found that of 4 654 Zimbabweans surveyed in Johannesburg in 2007, 92% had migrated between 2000 and 2007. Those who left between 2002 and 2006 cited political reasons, but those who left in 2007 cited unemployment.

Most of those surveyed, who were between the ages of 21 and 40, had a matric qualification, with more than 30% holding a post-secondary qualification.

According to the South African Qualifications Authority, of the 17 086 evaluations of qualifications it performed between January and September last year, 9 756 (57%) were for the purposes of Zimbabweans’ work-permit applications.

“This suggests a high level of skills among the migrants,” a statement on the report said.

However, the increasing number of Zimbabweans entering the country without documentation is highlighting weaknesses in South Africa’s migration policy, the Centre for Development and Enterprises said.

Zimbabwean applications for asylum were the second-largest component in a backlog of 144 000 applications by 2007, and an example of pressures on government capacity to deliver.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, 102 413 “illegal” migrants were repatriated to Zimbabwe between January and June 2007, and by July 2007, 17 000 Zimbabweans were deported each month.

There has been a “lack of realism and failure of leadership” within South Africa on regional migration, the researchers concluded.

Migration procedures need to be efficient and managed with decisiveness, including every aspect—humanitarian, emergency, economic and political.

Short-term priorities should include alleviating pressure on strained policies and systems—“systems weakened by poor organisation, bureaucratic incapacity, and corruption, notably in the South African Department of Home Affairs”, the report said.—Sapa

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