South Africa sets stage for deportation of Zimbabweans

August 1, 2011 19:16

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa ended on Monday a special program to provide visas for more than one million undocumented immigrants who fled political and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe, setting the stage for a possible mass deportation.

But a large-scale round-up of migrants looks unlikely because of the high cost for South Africa and the risk to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe -- who wants to hold elections this year -- of re-admitting migrants who largely support his opponents.

The migrants also provide a steady flow of hard currency through remittances that support Zimbabwe's shaky economy.

South African Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said on Monday immigration laws "will not target Zimbabweans."

But Home Affairs Deputy Director General Jackie McKay told media last month: "Anyone who is found in South Africa without legal documents to remain in the country will be deported."

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