Zimbabweans urged to welcome and integrate SA returnees regardless of their status


Bulawayo (New Ziana)-Zimbabweans should welcome and integrate returnees from neighbouring South Africa who are expected in the country soon, following the expiry of their temporary work permits, an official has said.

The South African government last year announced its intention not to renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs) and, following an outcry, gave holders until June this year to organise their affairs by either applying for critical skills permits or risk being deported.

There over 185 000 ZEP holders in the neighbouring country and Zimbabwe is anticipating an estimated 3 million undocumented locals who might want to escape anticipated xenophobic attack.

Many of the holders are however pinning hopes on the reserved judgement of the High Court Division in Gauteng province after human rights organisation, the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), filed an application last year seeking to overturn the 2021 government decision not to renew the ZEPs, arguing that it was unlawful and irrational.

In an interview with New Ziana, Matebeleland South secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Latiso Maseko told New Ziana that her province was expecting many returnees due to its proximity to South Africa and Botswana.

“As you know, Mat South is the first port of call for returnees as we house two borders namely Plumtree and Beitbridge. We appeal to local communities to embrace the returnees regardless of their status,” she said.

Maseko said they were also engaging community and traditional leaders to ensure they were prepared to integrate returnees into society.

“We know some left unceremoniously while some committed various crimes and other reasons. Let’s welcome them, this is their home. We can’t leave them to be subjected to dehumanising conditions that we are seeing in South Africa,” she said.

Maseko said her province would tap into the skills which some the returnees acquired, so that they also contributed in nation building.

New Ziana

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