Cape Town - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) plans on launching a new passport rule that could see borders within the region become a thing of the past for local travellers.
The idea behind the initiative is to ensure that an individual only uses one passport as an international travel document across the globe as well as end immigration challenges facing neighbouring countries.
The first draft Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons within SADC was introduced in 1996, but later "replaced by a more restrictive Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons in 1997". According to Tanzania's foreign minister Augustine Mahiga, these passports will be a better catalyst for ending challenges arising from movement of people between the SADC countries and would also create a "borderless region and continent".
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A major advantage to the much-anticipated passport could give South Africa as well as the rest of the SADC countries - Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Tanzania, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe - the right to travel across borders within the region using a single passport.
Plans for a SADC passport emerged after African Union heads of state launched an African passport at the body's summit in Rwanda in July last year. The East African Community launched its passport four months earlier and put these into operation in January this year.