SA must protect foreign nationals within its borders

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Letters to the editor

IT is now almost two weeks after the murder of Zimbabwean Elvis Nyathi in South Africa, whose only crime was being an undocumented foreigner.

The murder of foreign nationals, especially Zimbabweans in South Africa, is now a worrying thing which should be addressed.

It is incumbent upon government to realise and acknowledge its own role by immediately working on improving access to identity documents.

Government should embrace far-reaching governance reforms to stem further forced migration.

The daily influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa through legal and illegal migration is a clear indicator of push factors that the government must urgently address.

Authorities must address the socio-economic and political factors that are forcing Zimbabweans to cross into South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and other neighbouring countries.

This is the surest way of ensuring that emigration does not end up overwhelming foreign populations leading to deadly events such as the one currently unfolding in South Africa.

They should unreservedly engage their South African counterparts for immediate relief and protection of Zimbabwean citizens and other foreign nationals in South Africa.

As Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), we reiterate that South Africa has a critical role to play in resolving the multi-faceted crises in Zimbabwe and, therefore, implore the South African government to urgently show a renewed commitment to provide a permanent solution to end xenophobia.

It should uphold its important obligations towards protecting refugees and asylum seekers under international law.

South Africa is party to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) and the Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa (1969).

The South African government is, therefore, mandated to ensure the safety and security of all refugees domiciled within its borders.

It should desist from making irresponsible statements that may trigger xenophobic attacks against Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals.

South Africa must galvanise a regional response by putting Zimbabwe back on the Sadc agenda and ensure that Zimbabwe follows rational economic and political policies.

It should swiftly intervene and put in place long-term strategies to reduce inequality in South Africa.

This will go a long way in addressing the toxic xenophobic feelings that the region can no longer ignore.

Sadc, as a regional body, must take a clear stand against the erosion of constitutionalism and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.CiZC

Zec’s 20-day voter registration blitz too short

THE Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has earmarked 20 days only for the voter registration exercise and is calling it a blitz.

It can hardly be called a blitz when Zec is only providing one team per constituency and only allowing 20 days for the exercise.

Simple mathematics shows that no matter how hard the teams on the ground work, the maximum number of people they can register countrywide in this short period and with limited resources is well under
600 000 — far short of the six million the ruling Zanu PF party and opposition Citizens Coalition for Changes are looking at registering.

There are reputed to be
300 000 school leavers a year, so we can expect 1,5 million eligible new voters in a five-year election cycle.

Information on the ground so far shows that there are only about 12 mobile registration centres per constituency of about 24 wards and 50 polling stations.

Many people living in rural areas will have to walk long distances to registration centres.

But even if they were prepared to make the sacrifice to travel to their nearest registration centre, will there be enough resources to ensure they register?

If each centre can register one voter every five minutes and the officials work 10 hours a day, they can only physically register 120 per day, with no lunch or tea breaks.

Multiply that by the 20 days allowed and each constituency can register a maximum of about 2 400 voters.

As the Register-General’s Office is trying to catch up with IDs issuance and is running its programme until the end of September, Zec should consider also extending its registration exercise to run parallel.

It is quite obvious that if the Register-General’s Office is behind in IDs issuance, so too would be Zec by an equal amount. Maybe the two could join forces and save on costs.

This will also allow those reaching 18 years old in the next year to also be captured and give time for more thorough education on the importance of voting. The present exercise should be sufficient for the delimitation exercise.A Mbire

Free the informal sector and let it flourish

THE Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) proudly joins the nation of Zimbabwe in celebrating 42 years of Independence.

April 18, 1980 saw the advent of majority, rule with great strides made in sectors such as health and education as government spared no effort in bringing the black majority into mainstream national affairs.

The inherited economy was largely designed to cater for the minority, with services such as banking limited to urban areas.

Laws in existence at Independence were crafted to ensure the interests of the minority were protected at the expense of the black majority.

Fast forward to 42 years down the line and the majority of these laws are still in existence in the form of municipal by-laws and statutory instruments that are referenced by local authorities to crack down on the informal economy. This is despite the immense contribution by the sector to economic activity.

While we can quote all sorts of statistics, such as the fact that the informal economy provides over 90% of jobs and that it is the source of over 70% of gross domestic product, the real impact of the sector is felt when one goes to traders markets and you see the amount of transactions and money in circulation every day of the week.

Viset is of the view that instead of chasing the ever-elusive foreign direct investment, the first thing to do in line with the self determination that many lives were lost in pursuit of, is to have a purposeful legislation designed to nurture and grow the informal economy in its entirety.

While we acknowledge efforts to bring the sector into the mainstream economy, we feel that this must be in tandem with complimentary efforts by other ministries such as Local Government to repeal the colonial laws that are currently in existence that serve no purpose besides to close out the majority from fully participating in economic affairs.

We believe that such bold actions will not only add impetus to the formalisation process, but will bring into the financial system millions of dollars that are currently circulating in the informal economy, thereby increasing revenues for both local authorities and government.

It is important to mention that if harnessed properly, the informal economy can never be a charity case for handouts, but can be the driver of the national economy to the benefit of all.

Government priorities are many yet its revenue base is small, with the National Social Security Authority reporting that as many as 4,5 million formal jobs have been lost over the years.

All these people, along with university graduates and school leavers, are finding their sustenance in the informal economy and yet government would rather crack down on this sector instead of embracing it and ensuring its growth in order to leverage on the sector’s financial might in order to provide the nation with healthcare, affordable education, social security and infrastructure development.

Viset continues to be involved and track the ongoing process to ensure the end product speaks to the lived realities of the informal economy, from the roadside trader at Lusulu to the small-scale miner in Shurugwi. It is our prayer that this will mark the beginning of an overhaul of government policies so that the country can once again begin to work for the black majority and not for only a privileged minority as was the case pre-independence.

Happy 42nd Birthday Zimbabwe, makorokoto, amhlope!-Viset