Zim migrant workers seek Ramaphosa intervention

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BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
ZIMBABWEAN migrant workers in South African yesterday said Pretoria should put its promise to protect them from xenophobic attacks into action.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum chairperson Gabriel Shumba told NewsDay Business that they had been unsettled by instability in South Africa, one of several countries where Zimbabwe’s economic refugees have settled.

“We are increasingly alarmed because threats, harassment, intimidation, discrimination and unlawful dismissals of Zimbabweans from workplaces are increasing,” Shumba said.

“We are thus heartened to hear the Labour minister (in South Africa) cautioning that it is unlawful for ordinary citizens to visit places of employment to engage in lawlessness and disruption.

“Having said that, we believe that rhetoric without action means nothing to those who are at the receiving end of xenophobia in South Africa. We also want to state that more needs to be done to confront institutionalised discrimination in hospitals and other
institutions.

“The time has come for all our leaders in the region, including (South African President Cyril) Ramaphosa, to be candid about this scourge and take preventive measures.”

As Zimbabwe’s socio-economic situation continues to deteriorate, underpinned by a depreciating currency and inflation, many Zimbabweans have been leaving the country to seek better opportunities in South Africa, joining others who have left since 2000.

However, there has been growing anger among South Africans that Zimbabweans have been shutting them out of jobs, leading to renewed threats of xenophobia.

The South African government has given Zimbabweans up to the end of this year to regularise their stay in that country following expiry of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit regime last month.

At the end of the grace period, those would not be eligible to stay in the region’s biggest economy will be required to return to Zimbabwe.

The decision has triggered uncertainty among the migrants, who fear that they will struggle to find jobs or start businesses on their return.

“We have teamed up with more than 80 organisations, including South African ones, churches and labour to carry out awareness campaigns” Shumba said.

“We are also lobbying the government to take action before it’s too late. We have also made the call that a stakeholders’ meeting be held urgently.”

The Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa said it had received reports of “disturbing events” that affected the country’s nationals in parts of Johannesburg and Liphalale an area in Limpopo province.

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