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News / Africa

Zimbos in SA face a bleak future

by Staff Reporter
09 Mar 2017 at 15:48hrs | Views
Zimbabweans living in the neighbouring South Africa face an uncertain future following recent attacks and an announcement that their Special Permits (ZSP) will expire in December.

Earlier, the South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba declared that no foreigners would be chased out saying they contribute to economic growth. He, however, made a surprising u-turn after a few weeks and said that the government would not be renewing the ZSP.

His announcement followed continuous vicious attacks on foreign nationals by the City of Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, who publicly said immigrants are criminals and they have destroyed Johannesburg.
"You see, for me, when I call these criminals, I want them to understand that they are criminals. They are holding our country to ransom and I am going to be the last South African to allow it," Mashaba said in a media conference.

Soon after Mashaba's utterances, the minister slammed the comments and said they were inciting violence, but he later announced that the permits will not be renewed.

 "Accordingly, we have advised Zimbabwean nationals whose special permits are expiring, to apply for visas we issue under the mainstream immigration. We had started the special dispensation with Zimbabweans, with no intention, as clearly communicated, to confer or create expectations of permanent residence," Gigaba said.

"South Africa, like other countries in the SADC region, is well aware of challenges of border control, and the concomitant influx of economic migrants into the country, many under the pretext of asylum-seeking, with others breaking South Africa's immigration legislation," he added.

Mr Gigaba's announcement could mean that after December 31 at least 200 000 Zimbabweans in South Africa would become illegal immigrants and face deportation. Already, even before the permits expire, South Africa South Africa continued to experience skirmishes which have been deemed xenophobic.

Apart from false social media claims of xenophobic attacks, Mashaba and the Johannesburg metropolitan police joined residents who were protesting in Rosettenville. The protest saw dozens houses where foreigners live being burnt. The protest was organised by South Africans who claimed foreigners are drug dealers and fuel prostitution.

In another event, Mamelodi residents organised an anti-immigrant march against the employment of foreign nationals and their apparent illegal occupation of RDP houses. Mamelodi Concerned Residents Association in Pretoria believes.

Zimbabweans and Pakistanis are taking the most needed jobs from locals and are contributing to social ills. The South Africa law demands that companies and business employ 60% local and 40% foreign workers. South Africans, however, feel that companies prefer foreigners based on claims that they are hard-working. The association embarked in a head on attack and encouraged people to protest.

 "Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Pakistanis etcetera are not our countrymen. (They) bring nothing but destruction, hijack our buildings, sell drugs, inject young South African ladies with drugs and sell them as prostitutes. How is that helping us? They have destroyed our beloved Johannesburg. Now they are destroying Pretoria," the association's pamphlet read.

According to statistics, approximately three  million Zimbabweans migrated to South Africa due to economic hardships and their left behind families survive on remittances sent back home. In 2014 the South Africa government offered about 200 000 Zimbabweans Special Permits which are due to expire by the end of the year.


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