FOREIGN Affairs minister Frederick Shava has said something very interesting regarding our relatives currently domiciled far and wide in all corners of the globe, but more specifically with regards to those closer to home in South Africa where many of them are staring deportation.
In an apparent attempt to appeal to the South African government to spare from deportation some 1 780 000 Zimbabweans whose exemption permits expire end of this year, Shava says: “migration has become one of the main pillars of our people’s survival.”
It is a pity that the minister fell short of admitting that the Zimbabwean economy is partly surviving on diaspora remittances support now amounting to over US$2 billion annually, despite government perennially acknowledging this massive contribution to the national fiscus in the national budget.
While Shava says there are some behind-the-scenes happenings between South Africa and Zimbabwe regarding the fate of the exemption permit holders, we believe government should go a step further and grant the diasporans the right to vote in appreciation of the huge contribution they are making in propping up the troubled Zimbabwean economy and its people.
We would have thought that instead of busying itself amending the Constitution to stifle dissenting voices and the opposition, government would be doing itself a serious favour by acknowledging the diaspora’s contributions to national survival by instituting electoral reforms to allow those in foreign lands to exercise their right to vote.
But this is just wishful thinking, we guess, which points to a possible fact that government could actually be shedding crocodile tears over the plight of the Zimbabweans in South Africa. It would appear government could not care less given that it has never entertained the plea by the diasporans to be allowed to vote.
If this is the case, we suggest that all the reported 1,5 million Zimbabweans legally and illegally residing in South Africa should make the journey back home to vote in next year’s general elections. Under the circumstances, it is more than evident that nothing much will ever materialise from the alleged negotiations behind the scenes, meaning that the Zimbabwean immigrants have little to no choice but to simply return home.
Besides, Zimbabwe is a mere hours away from South Africa, and so — whether all those Zimbabweans in South are there legally or illegally, they should come back, the sooner the better, to register to vote and decide the country’s future, which currently appears hazy after 42 years of Zanu PF misrule.
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It will be very painful for them to eventually return to a country that will be led by a leadership they never helped choose. It is, therefore, advisable that they at least vote next year than face the real prospect of losing out on both fronts, in South Africa and back home.