ZIMBABWEANS should be in their home country and all nations “need to take responsibility of their citizens” a South African cabinet minister and senior ruling African National Congress (ANC) party official has said.
Lindiwe Zulu, social development minister and chairperson of the ANC’s international relations sub-committee was speaking Monday during a discussion on party policy documents.
The discussion was a precursor to the ANC’s policy conference which is expected to debate the sensitive subject of South Africa’s immigration policies.
“When it comes to the issue of Home Affairs, and you were saying maybe we are sending Zimbabweans back to starve, as the African National Congress we believe that all countries need to take responsibility of their citizens,” Zulu was reported as saying by jacaranda FM.
“First and foremost, we take responsibility of our citizens, we make sure that despite the challenges that we have of poverty, unemployment and inequality, we shouldn’t be having South Africans leaving South Africa with almost nothing,
“ … leaving South Africa and going to neighbouring countries to go and look for greener pastures when they aren’t even that much of the greener pastures that we can talk about.”
Zulu has, over the years, regularly angered the ruling Zanu PF party from the time she was a Zimbabwe dialogue facilitator for then South Africa president Jacob Zuma.
Her public comments on Zimbabwe resulted in Mugabe famously disparaging her as an “idiotic street-woman” and urging Zuma to stop this woman of theirs from speaking on Zimbabwe”.
More than a million Zimbabweans are estimated to have crossed the Limpopo to settle in South Africa, escaping economic hardships back home.
However, as South Africa grapples in with growing inequalities and high unemployment, locals have blamed migrants, particularly Zimbabweans, for taking job opportunities resulting in deadly xenophobic violence.
Amnesty International recently reported that migrants from Mozambique and Zimbabwe “feel unsafe in South Africa and face constant harassment from both the police and anti-migrant vigilante groups, who unlawfully demand to see their identity documents”.
Meanwhile, Zulu said there are ongoing discussions between the ANC and Zanu PF ahead Harare’s crunch 2023 elections.
“So, in our discussions with Zanu PF, we continue to engage with that to say let us all collectively create conducive environments for our people,” she said.
“… so that when we have these people to people relationship, it’s going to be people to people without others feeling like they are being pinched; without feeling like we’ve got too many Zimbabweans here in the country, they should be in their home.
“We need other countries to help us deal with the issue of immigration and immigrants. We need them to also appreciate that we are also under extreme pressure, because the economy of our country is also not doing very well.”
The Pretoria government has been toughening its immigration policies in a development that has, among other things, seen the ANC administration deciding to revoke special permits for Zimbabweans in a move that will affect some 178,000 of them.
United Nations (UN) experts recently accused South African political leaders of fanning the anti-immigrant sentiment in the country.
“Anti-migrant discourse from senior government officials has fanned the flames of violence, and government actors have failed to prevent further violence or hold perpetrators accountable,” they said.
“Without urgent action from the government of South Africa to curb the scapegoating of migrants and refugees, and the widespread violence and intimidation against these groups, we are deeply concerned that the country is on the precipice of explosive violence.”