Zimbabweans are now the second biggest group of foreign Africans in South Africa. Yet there is little formal information available on their situation. Very few are being officially recorded as political refugees. Some Zimbabweans claim that it is hard to access asylum seeker status. It was the intention of the authors to investigate these allegations, as well as to establish other problems and issues of relevance to Zimbabweans in South Africa.
South Africa needs to brace itself for ever-greater numbers of Zimbabweans unless a lasting political solution is found to the current crisis. At both government and NGO level, there is a need to devise policies to deal humanely with the influx, and particularly to provide services on the ground. For this, more information is needed.
Data for this report was collected between September 2003 and October 2004. Sources of data included: a desk study of media, human rights reports and refugee laws; more than two hundred interviews with Zimbabweans in South Africa; 7 field visits to the Johannesburg RRO; 10 field visits to places of residence; two surveys involving a further 211 Zimbabweans; interviews with key informants; 4 field visits to Musina; 3 field visits to Beitbridge.