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A contribution for the understanding of the legislation on repatriation on Southern Africa

7. The impact of the work of the Sub-Committees on the repatriation

By and large the understanding that are achieved on the negotiating table are contributing to the improvement of the repatriation system of Mozambicans. The Mozambique consulate in Johannesburg travels regularly to the detention centres of Lindela, where they participate in the checking of whether the candidates for repatriation are Mozambicans or not. It was thanks to the work of the consulate that more and more bogus Mozambicans are uncovered and stopped from being shipped to Mozambique. The involvement of the consulate has also improved the behaviour of the South African police officers towards the people to be repatriated.

In 1999 cases of people being robbed of their monies by police offices while on travelling on the repatriating train and being pushed out of the moving train have been reported. Some of these unfortunate citizens have suffered major injuries as a result. In 2001, the second Joint Commission Mozambique-South Africa noted, with satisfaction the involvement of the Mozambican Consulate in the process of repatriation.

Despite this progress, a number of problems are still being reported. For example, in relation to detention, there are complaints that are communicated to the Mozambican authorities by their South African counter parts. Zimbabwe has also found wanting when it comes to fulfilling the agreed minutes. Indeed, in July 1999, the Zimbabwean authorities repatriated, through the Machipanda border, 564 Mozambicans, without any prior notice to their Mozambican counter parts. These Mozambicans were not given the opportunity to collect their belongings including cash in the banks.

The need for the involvement of the Mozambican consulate would have avoided the embarrassment of the Zimbabweans themselves. Indeed, two of the citizens repatriate to Mozambique were Zimbabwean!

By and large, the number of people being repatriated continues to grow: in 1999, there were 43, 821 repatriated while in 2001 the figure grew to 72.365 (see Table 2). The majority of these are from South Africa with Zimbabwe and Swaziland coming with small figures2.

Between 1999 and 2001 3.006 people were repatriated from Mozambique. These include Europeans, Asians and Africans. In this figure 669 were repatriated in 2001, the majority of whom are Zimbabweans. These Zimbabweans were caught in the provinces of Gaza (21), Sofala (180), Manica (335) and Tete (112) (see Annex 1.)3

Table 2: Repatriation to Mozambique

Year Mozambicans Foreigners
1999 43.821 1.429
2000 40.470 908
2001 72.365 669
Total 156.656 3.006

Source: Adapted from the information provided by Direcзгo Nacional de Migraзгo de Moзambique

At the level of the activities of the Sub-Committees, one can notice that not everything is followed through by the parties. Some of the parties do, sometimes, engage in unilateral decision. South Africa, for example has entered into agreements about visa relaxation and circulation of people4 but one steps and does something else. For instance, from the beginning of 2002, no Mozambican citizen can obtain a visa without having attached a document from the employer, school or other. It is a known fact that most people are unemployed, or out of school. Where will they obtain such documents? The option that they are left with is to join the queue of illegal migration!

Other measures have also been taken. From March 2002, the cost of visa to South Africa from Mozambique has gone up to R425, which is almost twice the minimum wage. Taking up this issue, the main daily paper “Notнcias” complained that South Africa is punishing her neighbours. Whether this was the intention or not, what is a fact is that decision to raise the visa price will certainly attract more people to join the illegal route to enter South Africa. This will, in turn, lead to rising costs in the process of repatriation of the very same Mozambicans. Currently the cost is estimated at millions of Rands (Fion 2000).

According to some of the agreements, for example the one between Mozambique and South Africa (16.07.1999), sensitisation campaigns must be undertaken specially among the people living on the border areas about the dangers of illegal migration. Despite the fact these campaigns are indeed undertaken there are not done in large scale and, therefore, their impact seems very little. The National Institute for the Support of Mozambican Migrants argues that it has little resources at its disposal to do more what is done now (Covane 1997).

The Mozambican legislation does not have specific mechanism that would discourage illegal migration. This omission is also another contributing factor to the swelling of the number of illegal migrants. Within the Mozambican legislation there is not a single instrument that punishes illegal migration. That is why, in our view, that even citizens from other countries prefer to call themselves Mozambicans.

Footnotes:
 
  1. Direcзгo Nacional Migraзгo de Moзambique.
  2. Direcзгo Nacional de Migraзгo de Moзambique
  3. Minutas Acordadas na Reuniгo Trilateral entre os Ministros do Interior de Moзambique, Africa do Sul e Suazilвndia, Maputo, 1 de Abril de 1998.

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