Zimbabwean Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede told Parliament’s committee on home affairs Monday that deportations of Zimbabweans from South Africa and Botswana are stretching his department’s capacities, forcing it to operate seven days a week.
Mudede said his staff now work long hours top process documents for deported citizens. He says his office is overloaded even though last year staffers went to South Africa to document Zimbabweans without passports who sought permits to reside there.
He said just over 72,000 Zimbabweans received South African residency documents though there are estimated to be more than 2 million living there.
Principal Immigration Director Clemence Masangano told the committee that deportees from South Africa complain of harassment on both sides of the border. He said South Africa has deported 3,900 Zimbabweans since early October while Botswana has sent home 18,700 Zimbabweans since the beginning of the year.
Masango expressed concern that Botswana even punishes some deportees by flogging. He said the Zimbabwean government has engaged Botswana to end this.
Meanwhile, the International Organization for Migration refuted reports that hundreds of Zimbabweans are being deported from South Africa though their papers are in order.
IOM officials said that based on its own records and government figures such cases have been isolated and that those incorrectly deported have been able to return.
The organization has helped 2,758 deportees make their way back to Zimbabwe since South Africa resumed deportations in earnest in October, helping returning Zimbabweans at the border with food, medication and transport toward their homes.
Natalie Perez, head of the IOM office in Zimbabwe, told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo that the Beitbridge reception center is sufficiently funded to operate through March.