Harare, February 07, 2017 – SOUTH AFRICA’s government is set to deport at least 200 000 Zimbabweans living in its territory ahead of the much anticipated general elections in 2018.
The deportations will come following the expiry of Special Dispensation Permits of Zimbabweans on December 3 last year.
South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said his country could no longer accommodate the high numbers of Zimbabweans domiciled in the country hence the need to effect the law on the migrants.
“We cannot offer permanent residency for such a high number of people,” said Gigaba.
The deportations will come at a time when the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission will start registering voters ahead of the general elections.
The Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) is expected to start in March 2017.
It will capture voters’ unique biometric features, specifically fingerprints and facial imaging which will be recorded in a database.
It is believed that close to three million Zimbabweans are domiciled outside the country.
Minister Gigaba said there were 197 000 foreigners on the special permit arrangement, adding that he would make an announcement on the ZSP before the end of this month.
The South African minister said he was hoping that a decision by cabinet will act in favour of the migrants urging the Zimbabweans to opt for other visas despite the government tightening screws on the visas as it was setting quotas on foreigners working or running business in the Southern African country.
“We will make a well-thought-out decision, hopefully with the support of my cabinet colleagues,’ he said.
The Home Affairs minister said South Africa is set start enforcing South African laws requiring that 60 percent of all workforces should be made up of locals in the hospitality sector.
South Africa already has law that enforces the number of foreigners in the construction, agriculture and mining industries.
Roshan Dadoo of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa said the looming end of the ZSP made no sense as it could lead to Zimbabweans with jobs in the country being declared illegal.