ion and the flouting of labour laws. The reported plan is to help Zimbabweans seeking employment in South Africa to get legal documentation. Gabriel Shumba the Executive Director of the ZEF says it is mainly the Zimbabwean government that wants to keep tabs on who is leaving the country and where they will be based in South Africa. South African officials say the system will help the department of labour to make employers accountable for how they treat migrant labour. It will provide food and basic amenities while work permits are processed. The centre will reportedly also provide HIV/AIDS counselling and be the centre point for World Food Programme support.
Both governments say they are hoping it will help reduce border jumping and the abuse of Zimbabweans by South African employers. Press reports indicate that the International Organisation for Migration is supporting the initiative, which is the first of its kind in Africa. The office will also receive the close to 2000 Zimbabweans deported every week. The defence and security deal signed by the two countries last year has coincided with a number of events and arrangements that have made activists feel vulnerable in South Africa. Members of the militant Zimbabwe Action Support Group have been arrested and threatened with deportation while at the same time a senior Zimbabwean spy boasted about getting information on NGO’s working in South Africa from his counterparts. Observers say the office cannot absorb the large numbers of people leaving the country and there was no way everyone could get legal documentation to work in South Africa. It remains to be seen how the scheme will work.