By Ntando Ncube
The South African government on Thursday said it would resume granting millions of illegal Zimbabweans in South Afri
ca temporary resident permits. These will be provisional measures to accommodate the surge of Zimbabweans escaping political persecution and massive unemployment in the troubled country of Southern Africa.
Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, in a statement appealed to Zimbabweans to bring proof of their qualifications with them, saying they could take advantage of SA’s scarce skills.
“We definitely need a new approach. I believe as government we should challenge them to take up that opportunity,” she said.
Reiterating that the department will not open refugee camps for Zimbabweans here Mapisa-Nqakula said:”If people are hungry and we open a camp along the borders of course people will jump over and come and have a meal and cross back to Zimbabwe,” she said.
With unemployment rate standing at 85% in Zimbabwe, South Africa is struggling to deal with the thousands of Zimbabweans who have fled to the country in search of economic opportunities.
The minister, who was participating in a briefing with her counterparts on the government’s governance cluster, said there was no point in giving Zimbabweans refugee status as most of them wanted to earn money and then return home.
She said a refugee camp would have a “pull effect”.
Another concern about making people refugees was that they could then return home only once the problems had been resolved, the minister said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the government was “throwing money into a bottomless pit” because the thousands of Zimbabweans being arrested and deported every week were simply returning to SA.
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