To solve Beitbridge immigrant crisis, we must deal with Zimbabwe’s governance problem

THE forced migration crisis at Beitbridge border post is a manifestation of a longstanding crisis of governance in Zimbabwe. While people move from country to country throughout the world, the Zimbabwe-South Africa migration is driven largely by chronic unemployment and extreme poverty in Zimbabwe which are directly connected to the illegitimacy of Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime.

This crisis of governance emanates from flawed electoral processes that have resulted in performance illegitimacy and sheer incompetence by a regime that is pre-occupied with corruption and elite accumulation. Zimbabweans would not have to flood the border as they did returning home for the festive season or returning to South Africa afterwards if the economy was offering them more opportunities.

Zanu PF’s failure in governance is why the huge transnational flows of people between South Africa are made up almost exclusively of Zimbabweans. This one-way traffic is a reminder that the problem is on our side of the border and unless this is resolved, it will escalate in the coming years.

The crisis in Zimbabwe is not just a foreign policy issue for South Africa. It is a domestic challenge. The regime in Harare has so far resisted any help to resolve the political crisis. Resultantly, South Africa has had to take the pressure off our citizens who are fleeing state-engineered poverty.

The situation at Beitbridge border is compounded by the fact that we are in the middle of a further wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The crowds gathered at the border seeking passage to South Africa make a mockery of the rules against public gathering, social distancing and cleanliness. There are legitimate fears that such gatherings are super-spreaders of the virus which is a hazard to communities both in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

We call for an urgent resolution to the crisis at the border post. However, as we have often stated, to focus only on the situation at Beitbridge would be to merely deal with symptoms of a bigger problem. That bigger problem is the crisis of governance underwritten by a political process that is contaminated by illegitimacy. It is very important to attend to the bigger problem otherwise the situation at Beitbridge will be repeated and it will be worse the next time around.

Fadzayi Mahere is the national spokesperson for the MDC Alliance

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