After Covid con, Zimbabwe mulls ‘support’ for South Africa deportees

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s populist leaders say they are putting in place plans to extend “re-integration support” to thousands of South Africa based citizens targeted for the rich neighbour’s pending mass deportations sometime next year.

This is despite the country failing to deliver on promises to deliver almost similar support towards millions of locals at home who lost livelihoods during the onset of the Covid-19 menace 2020.

Zimbabwe also failed to provide decent amenities and food for locals who were housed in different quarantine centres in parts of the country.

At a post-cabinet media briefing in Harare Tuesday, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa returned to issue more government promises, this time saying the state was putting in place comprehensive measures to absorb the giant mass of expected returnees.

South Africa plans mass deportations on undocumented Zimbabweans and those whose Zimbabwe Exemptions Permits (ZEPs) granted in its territory are set to expire.

South Africa had initially given the ZEP holders a grace period of up to 31 December 2022 to apply for alternative visas, and later extended the ZEP validity to 30 June 2023.

The alternative visas include student, business, spousal and work permit visas.

However, most ZEP holders do not qualify for the outlined critical skills visas hence the low uptake.

Said Mutsvangwa, “The Zimbabwean government has issued guidelines and regulations for returning residents which include one duty-free vehicle and no limits to personal property.

“Government has also engaged the South African government, emphasizing that Zimbabwe is ready to receive its returning nationals, who should comply with the relevant South African laws.

“Cabinet agreed to establish an Inter-Ministerial Committee to prepare for the returning residents.

“The committee will be supported by subcommittees which will include the following functional areas Transport and logistics, Security, Documentation, Re-integration support, Resource mobilisation, Information and publicity as well as Health and education.”

Mutsvangwa did not state what form of reintegration support was planned for returning citizens.

However, Zimbabwe is struggling with its social support systems with millions of locals affected by the Covid-19 pandemic failing to receive support that they were promised by Treasury.

Government is also struggling to pay living wages for its restive workforce.

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