Govt issues statement on data collection at ports of entry

Staff Reporter

In a detailed statement released yesterday, the Government provided the much-needed clarity regarding the practice of collecting data from foreign nationals at the country's ports of entry and exit, emphasising that the use of exit cards is a standard procedure adhered to internationally and not unique to Zimbabwe.

The Government highlighted that the implementation of exit cards, a practice dating back to 1998, aligns with the stipulations of Immigration Regulations Statutory Instrument 195/98.

"It is important to note that the use of exit cards is not a new phenomenon. Their utilisation has been part of the Department’s exit formalities since 1998 and is provided for in Immigration Regulations Statutory Instrument 195/98,” the press statement outlined.

Further elucidating on the legal framework, the statement stated that, “Section 64 of the Regulations peremptorily obliges the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage to cause the collection of such data in respect of various categories of persons departing from Zimbabwe and transiting through Zimbabwe depending on the duration."

The statement also shed light on the involvement of the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTATS) in this process.

"Furthermore, the exit cards are utilised at the instance and on behalf of ZIMSTATS. This is the national agency mandated by law to collect, collate, analyse, and disseminate integrated, relevant, reliable, and timely official statistics in Zimbabwe. The data is part of the broader national data that is compiled and published through National Surveys, National Migration Profiles, Censuses, and Administrative Data,” the statement clarified.

In addressing concerns raised by certain media platforms, the Government emphasised the universality of this data collection practice.

"The collection of this data is not unique to Zimbabwe, as suggested by some media platforms, but universal to all countries. The difference may only be the level or point at which this data is collected. The collection of this data does not in any way violate the provisions or principles of the Cyber and Data Protection Act as alleged,” the statement reassured the public.

Additionally, the press statement underscored the role of the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage in administering legislation related to births, deaths, passports, and national registration cards through the Registrar General’s Office.

The same Minister is also responsible for administering the Immigration Act, which includes provisions for the collection of data on all foreign nationals entering and exiting Zimbabwe through the Department of Immigration.

Meanwhile, this data collection is a critical component of various stages of these administrative processes, ensuring compliance with both national and international standards.