ZIMBABWE and South Africa on Friday revived the Cross-Border Migration Management Stakeholders Forum after failing to meet in the last 12 months due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The forum was established in 2015 and is being facilitated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) under the Africa Regional Migration Programme (ARMP).
Since then, authorities from the two countries including Government agencies, immigration, social services, port health, the police, United Nations Agencies and non-governmental organisations have been meeting on a quarterly basis.
Speaking after the forum’s meeting held in Beitbridge (Zimbabwe) on Friday, the Consul-General to Johannesburg Mrs Melody Chaurura said the forum was very crucial.
She said it brings together the stakeholders from both South Africa and Zimbabwe, especially those who are concerned with deportations and issues to do with border efficiency management.
“Today’s meeting was a revival of the all-stakeholders’ forum that used to happen quarterly before the Covid-19 pandemic struck us,”
“As usual the meeting was attended by stakeholders from South Africa and Zimbabwe including government agencies, immigration, social services, the police, and United Nations Agencies among others.
“The whole idea is to enhance and improve efficiency and cooperation in activities so that systems from both countries speak to each other.”
Mrs Chaurura said they had discussed issues around the smooth and safe movement of people into either country under the current Covid-19 environment.
She said delegates had noted the importance of minimising the risk of spreading the disease across the borders hence the need to cooperate on all areas of mutual interests.
Mrs Chaurura said the stakeholders agreed to continue improving the way of doing business.
“Our objective is that people move safely in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We agreed on the need to revive quarterly meetings whether virtually or physically so that we keep the information-sharing platform active.
“This creates an effective platform to address all cross-cutting issues arising from the movement of people as and when they happen,”
said Mrs Chaurura.
She said the main challenges noted by the stakeholders centred mainly on the detection of fake Covid-19 clearance certificates produced in both Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Mrs Chaurura said they had also agreed that deportations or the movement of returning residents to either country should be properly coordinated to avoid unnecessary inconveniences to the stakeholders or the citizens.
“It is important that information is relayed to the receiving country in advance so that adequate measures are put in place to enhance safe migration,”
IOM Zimbabwe’s head of Governance and Development Unit, Ms Esther Wiesmann said the main objective of the forum was to provide a platform to discuss issues around migration that are affecting both countries.
She said some of the issues were the migration of vulnerable immigrants including unaccompanied children.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has compounded the socio-economic factors that characterise migration in Africa. Engagements such as these will assist countries to better anticipate, prepare for and respond to migration emergencies and crisis,”
she said. — @tupeyo