Bleak future for Zimbabweans working in South Africa


Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi on Wednesday said South African officials had reservations on extending the expiry date of work permits for Zimbabweans because of complaints by trade unions that Zimbabweans are taking up jobs that should be done by locals.

Mohadi, however, said his South African counter-part, Malusi Gigaba, is expected in the country soon with feed-back on the consultations with cabinet on the issue following their meetings in Pretoria last week.

The ministers met to discuss the issue of work permits granted by Pretoria in 2010 under the Special Dispensation for Zimbabwean Project which expire this year.

Zimbabweans who benefited from the documentation exercise enjoyed an uninterrupted stay in South Africa after they were issued with work, study and business class permits.

"They had some reservations on the extension of the expiry date when we put our issues on the table," said Mohadi.

"We asked: What is the reason for our people to go back and apply in Zimbabwe when they are registered and working legally in South Africa. What happens to the property they leave behind when they go back home?"

He said under the new stipulated regulations where the South African officials have indicated that they would only consider skilled labour, the bulk of unskilled Zimbabwean nationals who are working in that country would be prejudiced.

"Most of our people are working in restaurants and farms, they are not skilled. If they come back home they may not be allowed back into South Africa. They would leave all they have worked for in South Africa," he said.

"During the discussions, they indicated that there was pressure from trade unions in the country, saying that Zimbabweans and other foreigners are taking South Africans' jobs," Mohadi said.

"They understood our position and said they would consult with cabinet and then get back to us. Minister Gigaba will be coming to Zimbabwe anytime after consultations with cabinet, for further discussions so that we can find common ground."

The minister said the meeting in Pretoria also discussed the issue of deportations which he said were being carried out in an inhumane manner.

"The deportations of our people were part of the agenda; that they are inhumane. They collect people, put them in trucks and take them to a holding place called Lindela and then they are deported back to their countries," he said.

"That is not right, if the people are rounded up they should notify the embassy so that it can take it upon itself to screen if they are genuine Zimbabweans.

"Some people would have stayed there for years and would have acquired properties. What do they do with it; do they auction the property or what? We need some transparency there."

It is estimated that there are more than two million Zimbabweans working in South Africa.

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