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Cablegate: Mozambique and South Africa Sign Agreement To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) On April 15, Mozambique and South Africa signed a
bilateral agreement to eliminate visas for Mozambican and
South African citizens traveling to either country for up to
30 days. The agreement was signed in Pretoria by the
Ministers of Interior of each country and witnessed by
Presidents Armando Guebuza of Mozambique and Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa. The agreement eliminated, as of April 18,
2005, the 430 Rand ($72) visa application fee required by
South Africa of Mozambican citizens. It also eliminated the
85 Rand ($14) visa fee required by Mozambique of South
African citizens applying at the Mozambican consulate, and
the 170 Rand ($28) fee required of South African applicants
at the border. Instead of visas, citizens of each country
crossing the Mozambican-South African border from either side
will receive a stamp in their passport authorizing a 30-day
stay. With this agreement, Mozambique joins a long list of
countries that are exempt from visas to South Africa. This
list includes all of South Africa's immediate neighbors
except for Zimbabwe.

2. (SBU) While the agreement will facilitate travel for both
nationalities, the agreement is particularly beneficial to
Mozambican citizens. Mozambicans previously had to make an
application at the South African High Commission for each
six-month visa, application fees were roughly 30 percent of
Mozamibque's per capita income, and Mozambicans could not
make applications at the border. While the refusal rate for
Mozambican visa applicants had been low -- in a conversation
with Emboff, the Consul at the South African High Commission
estimated the 2004 refusal rate at less than 10 percent --
the high visa fees encouraged significant levels of illegal
immigration. Recent studies by the International Office for
Migration and other researchers have indicated that smugglers
at the Mozambican-South African border typically charge 150
to 200 Rand (half the cost of a visa) to their customers.
Customers included not only poor Mozambicans, but also
migrants from other countries for which South Africa requires
visas, including Somalia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Pakistan, India
and Bangladesh.

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3. (SBU) Comment. The abolition of visa requirements will
render obsolete the common local practice of purchasing
employment papers, bank statements and ownership documents in
order to obtain a visa to South Africa. The new rules may,
however, lead to increased purchases by third-country
nationals of Mozambican passports as a means of obtaining
entry into South Africa. It is already quite easy to
purchase legal but improperly obtained Mozambican passports
from low-ranking officials at the Mozambican Department of
Migration, or from connected South Asian-Mozambican criminal
syndicates. South Asians, Chinese, and East Africans with
what appear to be questionably obtained passports
occasionally make visa applications at the U.S. Embassy (and
get rejected). Since Mozambique is now the only country
bordering the Indian Ocean besides Mauritius whose citizens
do not require entry visas to South Africa, its status as a
magnet for immigrants from South Asia and other African
countries is likely to increase.

4. (SBU) Comment Continued: The abolition of visa
requirements is a big policy victory for President Guebuza,
earning praise from journalists and from everyday
Mozambicans. The visa agreement with South Africa, signed
two months after his inauguration, is the first publicly
known foreign policy accomplishment of his administration,
and is easily advertised as proof that Guebuza is delivering
the goods for the average Mozambican. In fact, nearly all of
the groundwork for this policy change was carried out by the
outgoing Chissano Administration. In September 2004, during
the presidential election campaign season, the GRM had issued
statements on the imminent elimination of visas to South
Africa. Nothing came of the announcements, however, and visa
policy changes with South Africa had fallen from public view
until news of the upcoming agreement hit the newspapers last
week. End Comment.

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