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SA's decision to end permits for Zimbabweans is shameful

17 Aug 2022 at 06:38hrs | Views
WHEN December 31, 2022 arrives, South African Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi, like his peers in Cabinet, will be with their families and will not have to fear being displaced from a country they have called home.

Instead, this will be the reality for thousands of Zimbabweans who will be affected by South Africa's decision made last December to cancel, without consideration, the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP).

The resolve was made without due regard for what would happen to tens of thousands of people who went to South Africa seeking nothing but a better life, and whose lives will now be upended by this decision.

The exemption permits were granted to more than 250 000 Zimbabweans who were among more than estimated two million who migrated to neighbouring countries at the height of Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis in 2008 and 2009.

The temporary measure was meant to regularise their presence in South Africa and allow Zimbabweans access to services such as banking.

But now, government has decided to cancel this measure without putting proper plans in place.

The one-year grace period expires at the end of this year.

In justifying government"s decision, Motsoaledi bemoaned how "people keep blaming the immigration services of South Africa, as if when one country creates a crisis, the country closest to it must respond by building the requisite capacity to deal with that crisis. That's the logic here".

The thing is, South Africa did play a role in the political crises that engulfed Zimbabwe, resulting in the economic crises, by allowing the late former Presidenr Robert Mugabe's regime to get away with rigging the 2002 election and many other crimes after that.

There is much to be said about former President Thabo Mbeki's complicity in the actions of the Mugabe regime as was revealed by the Khampepe report, which government spent 12 years blocking from becoming public.

Those who got caught in the crossfire of the political and economic crises in Zimbabwe did all they could to flee for a better life, turning to neighbouring South Africa for refuge.

Now, these people face further displacement as they risk deportation once the ZEP expires at the end of the year.

Those who left Zimbabwe and settled in South Africa have called this home for over 10 years. They have had children here and built their lives here.

The decision to revoke the permit affects all types of people from across the social spectrum. It impacts on teachers, truck drivers and doctors. It will separate families and leave others stranded without cars or access to banking services.

It interrupts university students who were trying to complete their degrees and it affects people like Angeline, who has been living and working in South Africa for near on a decade, but will not be able to seek treatment for brain cancer at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, without a valid permit.

Source - NewsDay Zimbabwe
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