MAPUTO, The agreement signed in April by between Mozambique and South Africa to extend the visa waiver period for their nationals wishing to visit the other country has yet to take effect, reports the Maputo daily, Noticias.

The Visa Waiver Protocol extended the period of the waiver from 30 to 90 days but it turns out that the South African and Mozambican immigration authorities have different interpretations of what the term 90 days means.

For the South Africans, Noticias quotes a source in the Mozambican Interior Ministry as saying, the 90-day period means that a Mozambican citizen may visit South Africa three times in a year without a visa, staying for up to 30 days each time. But, since three times 30 is 90, the Mozambican cannot make a fourth visit that year without a visa.

For Mozambique, this interpretation is wrong. For the Mozambican side, each visit may last up to 90 days, and there is no limit on the number of visa-free visits which can be made.

The South African interpretation would mean that the situation is worse for travellers than under the previous arrangements, when Mozambicans could cross into South Africa as many times as they liked, as long as they did not stay for more than 30 days per visit.

The 30-day visa waiver period has been in effect since 2005. Since there was a demand to extend the period, it was agreed in April to extend the waiver to 90 days. The Mozambicans have been surprised to find that South Africa does not interpret this to mean a maximum of 90 days per trip.

The two sides are returning to the negotiating table to hammer out an agreed interpretation of the protocol.