Harare - The Zimbabwean government has, with immediate effect, scrapped visas for all SADC countries.
Immigration department principal director Clemence Masango said the move was meant to facilitate easy movement within the region.
“This new position completes the circle and process for us as Zimbabweans in removing all visa controls of all Southern African Development Communities (SADC) countries in line with and fulfilment of the spirit and objectives of the SADC Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons.
All SADC nationals no longer need visas to enter Zimbabwe as they are now in Category A of our visa regime,” he said.
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Category A refers to countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirements, while those in Category B obtain visas at the port of entry, that is on arrival.
Category C nationals are required to apply for visas prior to travelling to Zimbabwe.
Forty-five countries fall under Category A, 89 under B and 83 under C.
Thirty-seven countries, including China, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Algeria, Turkey and Cuba, were moved from Category C to Category B under the new measures announced Thursday.
Masango said Zimbabwe had laxed conditions for Chinese nationals in that they had been moved from Category C to B, but with conditions attached.
“Only Chinese nationals travelling as a group cleared by tour operators and travel agencies in the People's Republic of China qualify,” he said.
“Chinese business persons and other citizens of the People's Republic of China, as approved by their government, will continue to apply for visas online.”
He did not specify what number consisted a group. The immigration boss said the new position was a response to the voice of players and interest groups in tourism and hospitality “who want to see more facilitation of movement of persons than control”.
Masango said consultations would continue to be made with concerned stakeholders, with a view to further relaxing visa controls in order to make travel easier and market Zimbabwe as a more favourable and accessible destination.
AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY