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Wednesday, 23 March 2011

A SADC Schengen? 3rd Edition

Now three years after it was first proposed, the picture regarding the regional schengen visa system dubbed Univisa remains unclear.

At a recent Arusha meeting,top tourism chiefs from SADC called for regional governments to endorse a single visa program that would ease movement of tourists in the region. There was some concern that the Univisa is timely as the number of foreign tourists visiting Southern Africa has been on the increase since the 2010 World Cup. In the words of the Zimbabwe representative, "A tourist in Angola needs a visa to enter Botswana or South Africa, a situation that takes days and unnecessary delays. Someone should pass through border restrictions before getting through to another member state".

What is muddies the water is this proclamation from COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya that "there is political will at a very high level in the region, to ensure that there is free movement of people among member countries". According to Mr Ngwenya the "free movement of goods in the region should be complimented with free movement of people". A view which appears to have been endorsed by George Kunda. According to Mr Kunda, "regional integration will not be achieved in the COMESA region if the basic tenets such as free movement across the borders are not addressed".

So what is on the agenda- a SADC Univisa or complete movement of people in COMESA? Zambia of course has duo problems of not fully endorsing the Univisa proposal and belonging to two organisations.

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1 comment:

  1. I have, honestly, never understood why African leaders allow overlapping membership in regional organisations. Currently, the East African countries are talking of reviving the East African community free trade area. This community has members who belong to either COMESA or SADC. SADC countries are also talking about transforming SADC into a bloc of free trade with others even suggesting a single currency for the region! It is high time we resolved this issue. No one country should belong to more than one regional organisation. This is a recipe for chaos.


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