by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa’s termination of permits allowing Zimbabwean nationals to work, study and run businesses is akin to formalising xenophobia in law and policy.
This is according to the Free Market Foundation (FMF), which believes the South African government is unfairly blaming the country’s economic woes to the foreign nationals.
Mukundi Budeli, a legal researcher at the FMF, said given the history of South Africa and its xenophobic violence against foreigners in recent years, the use of legislation against foreigners is as “unsurprising” and “unacceptable.
“The directive against Zimbabweans might be a testament to a future trend in South African legislation,” she stated.
Budeli said given the current plight of South Africa’s economic decline, corruption, and unemployment, foreigners were becoming scapegoats for government.
“Redirecting the frustrations onto a group of people based on cultural, ethnic, and other factors is a means to sow division and distrust.”
The Department of Home Affairs recently issued a directive terminating the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), which was introduced in 2009.
The directive allows permit holders to apply for an alternative visa or face deportation after a year.
There are few other visas available.
The termination of the permit threatens to terminate over 200 000 Zimbabweans’ access to banking, schooling and employment contracts.
“The termination by the South African government speaks to the increased institutional impact of xenophobia and racism,” Budeli argued.
Mmusi Maimane, the local opposition activist, also blamed government of shifting blame on foreign nationals at the expense of policy failures.
Thousands of Zimbabweans are in neighbouring South Africa, mostly in search of greener pastures.
– CAJ News