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MLF forms taskforce to fight xenophobia

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As fears of attacks on foreigners mount in South Africa, secessionist political party Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) has reportedly formed an anti-xenophobia unit to protect its members, the majority of whom live in volatile Johannesburg.

MLF secretary for legal affairs Sabelo Ngwenya told NewsDay yesterday they envisage an increase in xenophobia attacks at the end of July when deportations of undocumented Zimbabweans in South Africa begin.

“To date, we have not received any direct threat to any of our members, but past experiences dictate that we should remain vigilant at all times. We are, therefore, in the process of forming an anti-xenophobia taskforce to spearhead an awareness campaign on this evil.

“Recent events like the murder of Godfrey Sibanda cannot be taken lightly, more so that we are fast approaching the July 31 2011 deadline for the Zimbabwe Special Dispensation Programme,” he said.

MLF is centred in Johannesburg with most of its members, who left the country to look for greener pastures, living in South Africa’s economic capital.

The latest statistics reveal that only 133 000 of the 275 000 applicants had their permit applications approved during the registration exercise, which began in September last year and will end on July 31.

The International Organisation for Migration estimates there are 1,5 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa.

Meanwhile, a refugee rights group, People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (Passop), has said Zimbabweans living in South Africa deserve access to basic rights and services.

This follows reports some companies, schools and hospitals were denying Zimbabweans access to basic services.

“Zimbabweans in South Africa should receive access to basic rights and services without prejudice, as thousands of them had been denied this access, despite being in the final stages of receiving their permits,” said the group in a statement.

“We are appealing to employers, banks, schools and hospitals to note that those who possess a receipt of their application for a permit maintain their rights as legal immigrants.”

Passop said those Zimbabweans had the right to work, study or operate businesses, while their applications were still pending and depending on the type of permit they had applied for.

“They should also be allowed access to their bank accounts and health care as well as free movement within the country,” Passop said.

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