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Govt reviewing immigration laws

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By ARTHUR MORDAUNT - SWAZI TIMES-02-Jul-2009

LOBAMBA – In light of the problems encountered by the country regarding its travel documents, government has decided to review the country’s immigration laws

Home Affairs Minister Mgwagwa Gamedze disclosed that the laws to be reviewed were the Immigration Act, 1982, the Passport Act, 1971 and the Citizenship Act of 1992. The minister said this was prompted by recent developments where the United Kingdom (UK) issued an order that citizens coming from Swaziland would, from yesterday, require a visa when visiting the former colonial power. The decision also affects a few other countries.

Gamedze said the UK pointed out a number of loopholes in the country’s immigration system, which has necessitated the review of all the laws. He also disclosed that government had undertaken a number of initiatives in order for the country to regain its visa-free status. These include the introduction of machine-readable passports (diplomatic, service and ordinary passport as well as the travel document). He said government would also introduce a new computerised Entry Visa, which will replace the rubber stamp type of visa. This is expected to be piloted within six weeks.

unhappiness Members of Parliament expressed unhappiness that government had taken too long to address the concerns by the UK government until it decided to implement the visa requirement decision. Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo said this matter was raised a long time ago but government did not do anything. He said the issue was similar to the airplane situation where the UK House of Commons raised a concern about Swazi-registered airplanes until the matter reached the European Union where Swazi planes were now banned. Motshane MP Robert Magongo wanted to know when government got to know about this matter.

Meanwhile, Siphofaneni MP Gund-wane Gamedze and Majahodvwa Khumalo of Lobamba were not happy about the fact that the minister had delivered his message in the English Language.

The minister explained that, while it was true that they received the inform-ation sometime back, government still had to purchase the necessary equipment to make the required passports. He emphasised that government was not sitting on its laurels but was doing something about the matter.


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