By Peter Fabricius
The South African government is embarking upon a new policy of treating immigrants as a development opportunity rather than a threat.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba outlined the new policy in Johannesburg yesterday, at the regional launch of the United Nations Development Programme 2009 Human Development Report.
Titled "Overcoming barriers; human mobility and development", the report urges all governments to regard migrants as potentially good for the development of their host and home countries.
Gigaba said the Department of Home Affairs had taken three aspects of this policy shift to the cabinet to seek its approval.
The first was to separate economic migrants from refugees and to try to use the economic migrants as opportunities.The second was a special dispensation permit for Zimbabwean immigrants, which was at an advanced stage. In the meantime, no Zimbabwean would be deported until further notice, Gigaba said.
The third aspect was "an entire migration policy shift" which was at "a crucial stage" of preparation, he said.
Gigaba said that, starting with the 2010 World Cup next year, Home Affairs would focus on how to use immigration to help development rather than treating it as a crime.
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