Permit Ban Could Weaken Zim-SA Relations

Leader of the Ideas Party of Democracy (IPD), Herbert Chamuka has warned that the recent pronouncement by South Africa that it will not be extending the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) which are expiring on December 31, could hamper diplomatic ties between the countries.

In a statement last week, the South African Government said those that fail to qualify for other permits will have to leave the country or face deportation.

The move is likely to affect more than 180,000 Zimbabweans who are holders of ZEP which came about in 2009 as the Dispensation of Zimbabwean Permit and was meant to legalise thousands of Zimbabweans living in South Africa because of political and socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

However, Chamuka said the move is likely to cause commotion between the countries.

“If all Zimbabweans are deported, it means there’s no longer a relationship between Zimbabwe and South Africa because we have a border at Beitbridge so that is wrong information. There’s no country that can just wake up and declare that they are chasing foreigners from a particular country,” he said.

Chamuka added that the move is politically motivated as it would mean more Zimbabweans are coming home ahead of the 2023 elections.

“It means there’s a target, whether they have seen the 2023 elections so they want us to vote and topple the current government but even in Zimbabwe there’s a lot of South Africans so there’s no need for Zimbabwe to say they want to chase the South Africans.,” Chamuka noted.

He stated that South Africa must be sincere to Zimbabwe’s plight as before 1999 when the country’s economy was still a force, South Africans would come to Zimbabwe to find jobs but they were never chased.

“So we are asking for a dialogue between Zanu PF government and the ANC government before things go bad,” he warned.

In a statement, MDC Alliance secretary for Diaspora Affairs and Mobilisation, Clifford Hlatywayo said the party respects South Africa’s decision but blames the mass exodus of job seeking Zimbabweans on the Zanu-PF led government.

“We respect the decision of the South African government and we appreciate South Africa’s help. The nation has repeatedly supported Zimbabwean citizens who were fleeing poverty, injustice and corruption. Our people left the country in search of better opportunities and jobs following the socio-economic and political crisis created by the regime in Harare.

“As a social democratic party whose core value is to champion a better society for the people of Zimbabwe, we are extremely concerned with the plight of our brothers and sisters who have become perpetual victims of the authorities that deliberately renege on their responsibility to serve and protect the people,” said Hlatywayo.

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