Xenophobia fears as SA party targets Zim learners

Local News
Indications are that PA is raising anti-Zimbabwean immigrant sentiment in its wider campaign in the lead up to that country’s elections set for this year.

SOUTH Africa’s opposition Patriotic Alliance (PA) party is now targeting schools suspected of enrolling Zimbabweans in its ongoing fight against locals based in that country amid fears this could stoke xenophobic attacks on foreigners.

Indications are that PA is raising anti-Zimbabwean immigrant sentiment in its wider campaign in the lead up to that country’s elections set for this year.

PA attracted controversy recently when it deployed its

leadership to patrol the Beitbridge Border Post to allegedly target suspected illegal border jumpers.

In recent news report, the PA said it wanted an audit of all permits of Zimbabwean nationals, residence documents, job visas and asylum seekers, starting in 1994 and ending in 2024.

In their latest stunt, PA members led by their deputy president Kenny Kunene stormed Esikhisini School in Pretoria to demonstrate against the enrolment of Zimbabweans at the school.

The PA also said it was against the election of a Zimbabwean into that school parents’ association.

Posting on X, Kunene, who is campaigning for the Gauteng province premiership, confirmed visiting the school to protest the enrolment of Zimbabwean learners.

“Today we went to Esikhisini Primary School to make sure that Shona is not taught at that school, and we also made a call for the chairperson of SGB (School Governing Body) who is a Zimbabwean to be removed. Indeed, some children are from Zimbabwe and they must be replaced by SA children,” he said.

Kunene’s February 12 X post attracted 238 reposts from 232 100 viewers as of yesterday.

In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) yesterday, Kunene and his followers said they were made to believe the school had an enrolment of 60 Zimbabweans, denying SA nationals places.

Kunene also said they had information of the unnamed SGB chairperson, who was orchestrating moves to have Shona taught at the public school.

“We met with the principal of the school who said the percentages are wrong and we are coming to investigate,” Kunene said on SABC.

He said the principal, one Nkabinde, confirmed that the SGB chairperson was indeed Zimbabwean but dismissed allegations that his school made an application to teach Shona.

“We have heard it is the SGB chairperson orchestrating for the teaching of Shona and the department of education is entertaining this nonsense,” Kunene said.

Confident that he will win Gauteng premiership, Kunene, a former teacher, convict, businessman-turned-politician, said he would approach education offices to express his displeasure against enrolling Zimbabwean learners.

Kunene said if ever he assumed premiership, all schools would be discouraged from enrolling foreign nationals.

Kunene’s past is not all rosy.

He got involved in student politics in the 1980s and at the age of 15 he was imprisoned for 6 months due to his role in student uprising and protests in Free State. Born October 21, 1970, Kunene is a businessman, politician, motivational speaker, teacher, activist and former convict.

After his prison stint, Kunene became a motivational speaker and active in local politics.

Over a million Zimbabweans are believed to have crossed the border over the years and settled in South Africa to escape economic challenges back home. South Africans accuse Zimbabweans of taking their jobs.

However, as inequalities worsen, migrants have been targeted in bouts of deadly xenophobic attacks as they are blamed for taking jobs, houses and other opportunities from locals.

In 2022, Limpopo Member of the Executive Committee for Health, Phophi Ramathuba made headlines after berating Zimbabwean patients, adding that she was considering billing President Emmerson Mnangagwa for health services offered to immigrants.

The rants attracted widespread criticism with the Zimbabwe embassy in SA vowing to engage authorities in that country over the matter.

In the video, which was first posted on Limpopo's health department Facebook page, Ramathuba told the woman that Zimbabwe must take responsibility for her health issues, not South Africa.

Leaning on the patient's bed, Ramathuba said President Emmerson Mnangagwa did not contribute to South Africa’s health budget and that her country’s health system was not a charity.

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