SA’s asylum office ‘disfunctional’

BY SIMBA MANYANYA PRETORIA - As part of the ongoing 'Road to Lindela Project' and also to deal with emergent 'asylum' related issues a visit was paid to the SA Asylum/Refugee office in Pretoria recently, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the UN must consider unfolding events with some se

nse of urgency.

South Africa’s explicit support for the ruling party in Zimbabwe creates an unprecedented state that is prejudicial to political refugees from that country, but who otherwise need assistance. The official South African position about Zimbabwe fails to acknowledge the existence of a crisis in that country, and the need to work on lasting solutions.

The creation of an asylum/refugee office under the headship of a Congolese who is a self-declared and proud Mugabe fan also says quite clearly that that office has multiple purposes; one of which is to deal with the Zimbabwe asylum/refugee processes in a manner that protects or promotes reigning political cultures in Zimbabwe.

That office is a political creation to give the outside world an impression that something is finally being done in South Africa to ‘assist’ desperate refugee immigrants, whilst at the same time creating the necessary space to ‘finally deal’ crushing blows with perceived Zanu (PF)’s political opponents who land in South Africa. In the first place, for all practical purposes the asylum office in Pretoria is dysfunctional; the computers are always ‘down’, and there is always some reason to explain ‘why things are not moving today’.

People of all ages – mothers, fathers, children, youth and from all sorts of backgrounds – are still sleeping outside those offices in Pretoria for days on end, and there is no clear sign that a lasting, sustainable solution is at hand. The picture also emerging is that even instructions in court injunctions (case number 32849/2005) to the Home Affairs Department of the Government of South Africa to improve its delivery of services to asylum seekers will not be duly respected.

For Zimbabweans who may be visiting those offices expecting to be assisted it is a really depressing experience. South Africa cannot handle Zimbabwe asylum refugee issues until there is full acknowledgement from its Government that there is a political and economic crisis unfolding in Zimbabwe, and that this situation requires a comprehensive approach that takes serious cognisance of the risks of not taking requisite action as soon as possible.

What is emerging in Zimbabwe are all the signs of political and economic failure; the future looks very bleak for the majority, and provides further evidence to prove that this continent needs a brand new set new traditions whereby politicians who cause so much suffering for ordinary people, and other agents of economic destruction are roundly condemned rather than admired. There is need for a new culture of values whereby there is the demonstration of strong commitment to the real values associated with political and economic recovery and positive change. It seems about time the UN came into the picture and assume clear leadership of the Zimbabwe refugee political asylum processes in SA.

Post published in: Opinions

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