THE Migrant Workers’ Association-South Africa (MWA-SA) has lashed out at the South African government for only considering Zimbabwean migrants in the special permit dispensation, leaving out undocumented people from other countries.
BY SILAS NKALA
MWA-SA acting chairperson Butholezwe Nyathi said the special permits should have been granted to all undocumented African immigrants working or studying in South Africa.
“We were told that the process was starting with Zimbabweans and was going to be rolled out to other nationals,” he said.
“Indeed, we saw it being extended to the people of Lesotho.
“Our concern is that there remains a large number of undocumented migrants from Zimbabwe, Lesotho and other countries.”
The Jacob Zuma-led government recently announced plans to extend work permits for nearly 200 000 Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) holders working in the neighbouring country beyond December 31.
The new special permits were set to replace permits issued in 2014, which were due to expire in December this year.
“There are many people who missed the opportunity to be documented or who arrived after the window had been closed,” Nyathi said.
“On top of that, there are huge numbers of people who have applied for asylum or refugee status, or who continue to use these papers for survival purposes.
“This has led to the clogging of the South African government’s systems as evidenced by the situation at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre in Marabastad, Pretoria.
“The fact of the matter is that the economic and political factors which pushed migrants to come to South Africa continue to be in play in countries such as Zimbabwe – and illegal or overstaying Zimbabweans will remain in South Africa with or without permits.”
He said there was need to document all migrants living in South Africa in line with the white paper on international migration, fighting crime and African solidarity.
The International Organisation for Migration in 2012 estimated that up to 1,5 million Zimbabweans were living in South Africa.