Home Editors' Pick There is no place like home: 400 Zimbabweans volunteer repatriation from SA

There is no place like home: 400 Zimbabweans volunteer repatriation from SA

by commuadmin
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Repatriates undergo testing before leaving for Zimbabwe: Picture by Dianah Chiyangwa

…embassy says over 2 600 more in need of repatriation assistance

Dianah Chiyangwa

PRETORIA – Zimbabwe has undergone decades of economic decline and political instability and this resulted in many skipping to neighboring South Africa in search for greener pastures.

SW Radio once highlighted that an estimated 1-3 mill Zimbabweans are in South Africa.

The global Covid-19 pandemic has however affected most economic activity thus jeopardizing informal trade which most Zimbabwean Diasporas have relied on over the years in foreign lands.

While economic activity is disturbed, this also means livelihoods are affected since lots of foreign nationals have been dependent on thriving industries to earn a living and as a result, many Zimbabweans in neighboring South Africa have decided to go back home.

About 400 Zimbabwean nationals were repatriated from South Africa on Friday 15 May 2020.

Teaming up with the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa and International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Zimbabwean born businessman Justice Maphosa contributed towards the cost of hiring buses, personal protective gears to use on arrival to quarantine centers in Zimbabwe.

There is also growing fear that once lockdown is lifted foreign nationals are likely to lose their jobs.

The insecurity follows South Africa Minister of Employment and Labor, Thulasi Nxesi announcement to parliament that his department ‘…must implement strict measures prohibiting the hiring of foreign nationals especially those who are working in restaurants, hotels, security companies, domestic workers and construction.’

The indication came as a direct protest over the mentioned fields employing foreign nationals to the expense of South Africans whose unemployment rate which rose from 27.1% as at end 2019 to 27.6% as at end January 2020.

“When I saw a repatriation post on Facebook provided by Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa, I wasted no time in responding to the link,” said one of the repatriates, Khulekani Ndlovu (24) of Bulawayo.

Ndlovu also highlighted that he has decided to go back home since he has not managed to be getting jobs after announcement of lockdown. He is a self employed painter and further said, “…I cannot continue to afford sustaining a living in South Africa.”

IOM conducted the pre-travelling medical check and distributed Covid-19 information sheets for IOM travel. All teams were provided with sanitizers, gloves and masks upon departure.

IOM’s Chief of Mission, Lily Sanya however made it clear that stringent measures should be put in place on arrival to quarantine centers in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi witnessed the repatriation at Magnolia Dell Park in Pretoria, where buses bound for Harare and Bulawayo were waiting to ferry travelers.

Hamadziripi indicated that there are over 2600 distressed Zimbabweans in South Africa, and called for other well-wishers to donate towards the funding of the humanitarian repatriation of other citizens.

“If there are those who still want to return to Zimbabwe, whether they are self-funding or want to be assisted, they can still contact the embassy or consulates in Johannesburg and Cape Town for necessary assistance,” Hamadziripi said.

As of 15 May 2020, 13.524 of Covid19 cases and 247 deaths have been recorded in South Africa.

Recoveries stand at 6083 and tests done are at 421 555.

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