Rights groups accuse SA of double standards

Refugee rights groups here have raised extreme concern at the alleged lack of transparency by South African Home Affairs Director-General, Mkhuseli Apleni, in his engagements with parliament and civil society.

SA Home Affairs Director Mkhuseli Apleni, accused of misleading Parliament.
SA Home Affairs Director Mkhuseli Apleni, accused of misleading Parliament.

The People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty, PASSOP, and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum early this week called for accountability in governance and requested that the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Home Affairs on Home Affairs should intervene in the resumption of deportations of Zimbabweans.

PASSOP has also written to the Portfolio Committee to request a meeting that hopes to discuss the apparent contradiction between what Apleni told the Portfolio Committee on September 20 2011 and a recent Directive he issued regarding resuming deportations of Zimbabweans.

“We cannot believe that the same week that the Director General briefed the Committee on the Zimbabwean Documentation Project, he failed to mention that he was about to sign a Directive that ordered the resumption of deportations of Zimbabweans,” read a statement released by the two organisations and signed by PASSOP’s Braam Hanekom and ZEF’s Gabriel Shumba.

“This Directive essentially ended a moratorium on deportations of Zimbabweans and authorized the first sizable deportations of Zimbabweans in over two years.”

The two organisations said that transparency and honesty from the Department of Home Affairs would have addressed a number of grey areas in the latest development.

“After fully reviewing the meeting’s minutes and transcripts, we believe that the Director General has misled parliament and civil society. To this end, we have lodged a complaint and requested to meet the Committee to discuss the matter.”

South Africa last week ended the moratorium on deportations of undocumented Zimbabweans – sending home hundreds within three days, but the two organisations said that there was also an urgent need for Apleni to Director General to convene a meeting of stakeholders to explain the decision that was taken.

“The moratorium on deportation was introduced on the realisation that it was not tenable to forcibly return Zimbabweans to Zimbabwe because of the socio-economic and political environment prevailing there.

“This environment has since not been adequately resolved; therefore PASSOP and ZEF's position is that it is ill-advised and premature to recommence deportations at this time. Both civil society organisations and the Zimbabwean government are not in a position to deal with the large human rights and humanitarian costs that the resumption of deportations brings about. Already about 600 Zimbabweans have been deported in the first two days alone last week,” said the statement.

Meanwhile in its letter to the Portfolio Committee, PASSOP said that it felt that Apleni misled parliament and civil society and expressed belief that it was its collective duty to hold the Department accountable, adding that transparency of government officials was of utmost importance.

“During the presentation and question and answer session that followed with your honourable committee on the 20th of September 2011, Mr Apleni stated that once the Zimbabwean Documentation Project (DZP) is completed a report would be compiled and presented to the Minister, and that before this process was completed no Zimbabweans would be deported,” read a letter written by Hanekom.

“…… Mr Apleni stated: ‘we were clear that no Zimbabwean will be deported from December 31st up to the time that we close the project’. Contrary to this, however, the DG issued an internal Directive on September 27th that instructed officials to deport undocumented Zimbabweans ‘with immediate effect’.

“As of Wednesday October 12th it has been confirmed that deportations of Zimbabweans have resumed. We feel that the resumption of deportations at this time contradicts Apleni’s statements to the Portfolio Committee.”

“The DHA leadership has left civil society in the dark and ignored its views. For months now, the DHA has proclaimed different deadlines and contradicting statements, with little regard about the impact the resulting confusion has on the Zimbabweans living in this country,” said Hanekom.

“Our daily monitoring efforts at DHA offices show us that the issuing of permits will only be completed towards the end of the year, at best. There are tens of thousands of Zimbabweans still waiting for their permits. Therefore, we cannot comprehend the statement by DG Apleni that ‘the ZDP had come to an end on September 30th’.”

Post published in: Politics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *