Disaster on the horizon

HARARE - Zimbabwe is in for a shocker in the coming months when an estimated quarter of million people are forced to return home.

Soon after South Africa’s May elections, new regulations were introduced requiring foreigners to return to their country of origin to renew their South African permits.

For 250 000 Zimbabweans living and working in South Africa on special permits issued under the Zimbabwe Document Project, their legal status to remain there expires before the end of the year.

The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA) which is assisting Zimbabweans to comply with the new regulations recently met Home Affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi who said there was no way Zimbabwe could absorb the 250 000 returnees.

Are we therefore admitting that they are no longer our own?

That is a pretty scary admission from a Cabinet minister considering that these are our own citizens.

Whichever way you look at this, it seems no one’s going to be happy with these regulations — Zimbabweans do not want to come home and probably the authorities do not want them to come home either.

What do 250 000 Zimbabweans look forward to once they cross the border at Beitbridge?

If they come home with money they will be OK for a while.

But everything will depend on how long they will have to wait for new permits to return to South Africa, or if they’ll even get the permits.

The chances of them being able to permanently stay home are minimal.

They certainly have no chance of finding jobs here bearing in mind the rate at which our economy continues to shrink; redundancies are already rampant, companies closing at an alarming rate and most businesses say times have never been tougher than they are now.

Where will 250 000 returning Zimbabweans live?

The demand for housing and accommodation is already enormous with all urban areas in a state of crisis with regard to water supply, sewage systems and garbage collection.

The demand for electricity already outstrips supply by nearly 50 percent, so adding the needs of another quarter of a million consumers perhaps needs investigation.

Then there are the crucial areas like health and education to consider.

The pressure of an additional 250 000 people on already understaffed and poorly equipped clinics and hospitals  because of an inconsiderate policy will be enormous. 

How many of the returning Zimbabweans may be in need of life sustaining drugs for conditions such as HIV, diabetes, tuberculosis and epilepsy?

Will they be able to receive the attention they need in our appalling medical facilities?

Already many of the free drugs dispensed by hospitals every month to low income and unemployed people have not been available for the last six months.

Patients have to pay cash for everything from X Rays and blood tests to injections, bandages and basic medicines.

It is not known how many children amongst the estimated 250 000 people being sent back here, but for them there are a myriad issues that await them here.

The ability of our education system to absorb thousands of extra children is seriously doubtful.

Those born in South Africa will not even have birth certificates; many will probably not be able to speak our local languages let alone be able to read or write in them.

They will need special support and assistance and most of our schools are obviously incapacitated to provide for that.

It is a cause for considerable concern that a Cabinet minister shamelessly concedes that Zimbabwe cannot absorb of its own returning citizens.

The authorities knew this was coming and yet nothing was put in place to assist Zimbabweans who will find themselves as unwanted scatterlings.

    Comments (4)

    VP Mujuru recently implored the diasporants to return home&build the country yet minister Kempo Mohadhi says the country can not absorb these people. Where do we stand really?

    kurangarira - 16 July 2014

    250K plus is the number of who got permits.Those without outnumber those with permits.If more people without permits are staying in South Africa and looking after there relatives in Zimbabwe.Do you think those with permits will just cross the border and come back home when their permits expire? In any case how many had already been working in South Africa before 2010 when permits were issued?Why not wait until we get to the river.

    chimuti - 16 July 2014

    These pple only got permits 4 years ago, not 20 years ago. They got permits in 2008 when Zim was on its worst. Now Zim is better and Mujuru is actually inviting diasporans to come back and build our country. We must be happy that they are coming. Why do we want to burden other countries with results of our economic mismanagement? While I feel for Zimbos affected, I am surprised by the govt's no shame approach of trying to force its citizens upon another sovereign state. They are the ones who love to vomit about sovereignity every now and then. take your pple, give them life and opportunities. You want to cater for one 90 year old man and throw a whole 250k pple to the wolves?

    Tongogara - 17 July 2014

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