THE United Nations (UN) is bracing up for a surge of millions of Zimbabweans that are likely to be expelled from neighbouring South Africa later this year.
Edward Kallon, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Zimbabwe, forecast the return of about 180 000 Zimbabwean migrants from South Africa, where they are currently on exemption permits, as well as the potential expulsion of four million other migrants without legal status.
Speaking in the capital Harare during the Joint Steering Committee meeting of the 2022-2026 Zimbabwe UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (ZUNSDCF), the envoy said the UN Country Team was committed to collaborate with the government and partners to develop a regional
engagement and operational plan that promotes a rights-based approach to migration governance in return contexts.
This includes the provision of post-arrival assistance and reintegration support to the returning migrants from South Africa.
South Africa has given Zimbabweans in that country up to the end of June to renew their exemption permits.
However, a majority does not qualify for the new permits as they do not possess so-called critical skills.
There is also rising anti-foreigner sentiment in South Africa as economic and work opportunities wane. Militant organizations such as Operation Dudula are demanding that foreign nationals leave the country.
They allege the migrants are responsible for crime and unemployment.
Last year, Elvis Nyathi, a Zimbabwean man was beaten and burnt alive by a mob of demonstrators in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg. This week (today, April 6) marked a year since his murder.
Meanwhile, Kallon said the UN must work together with government and stakeholders to endear social cohesion and sustain peace including before, during and after the 2023 elections in Zimbabwe.
“The costs of conflicts are high and further reverse development gains achieved,” the envoy said.
The Southern African country has a history of violent elections.
Dates have not been sent but reports of violence are emerging around Zimbabwe.
Pressure is mounting against the government of President Emerson Mnangagwa and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) amid economic challenges.
The party, in power since independence in 1980, is projected to face a stiff challenge from the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), led by Nelson Chamisa.
Critics blame the ZANU-PF led government for ruining the once-thriving economy, which has forced millions out of the country.
The government blames the challenges on sanctions imposed by Western nations after the administration of then president, Robert Mugabe (deceased), seized land from white commercial farmers in 2000.
– CAJ News