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Home Affairs Ministers to Discuss Fate of Zimbabweans in SA

The South African government is said to be deeply divided on renewing the permits of thousands of Zimbabweans living in that country. (Photo: SA Home Affairs website)

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi is Thursday expected to meet his South African counterpart, Malusi Gigaba, in Pretoria to discuss the fate of Zimbabweans domiciled in that country.

An estimated 250,000 Zimbabweans were given work permits under a special dispensation by the South African government in 2010 and the permits are expiring in December.

Under the special dispensation programme, undocumented Zimbabwean nationals were given temporary work and residence permits. But the South African government is said to be deeply divided on renewing the permits.

Minister Gigaba told parliament early this month that Pretoria will decide next month on the way forward. But some Zimbabwean organizations in South Africa are claiming that Pretoria has stepped up an operation to flush out illegal immigrants including Zimbabweans by rounding them up.

There are also reports that banks have started freezing bank accounts of foreigners deemed suspicious and Zimbabweans have been hit hard. Zimbabwe’s consular general, Godfrey Magwenzi, told VOA Studio 7 that the meeting is on.

Gigaba's spokesperson, Mayihlone Tshwete, also said the much-anticipated meeting is set for Thursday.

Spokesman of the Zimbabwe Migrants Association, Daniel Muzenda said the meeting is key as Zimbabweans are anxious to know their fate.

South Africa deports thousands of Zimbabwean economic refugees every year, but the majority quickly make their way back through the country’s porous borders.

The country’s statistician general, Pali Lehohla, has also revealed that Zimbabwe contributes the greatest number of immigrants to South Africa.

Economists are warning that with Zimbabweans worsening economic problems, the great trek to South Africa will gather momentum.