South Africa’s International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor was on Friday hosting her Zimbabwean counterpart, Frederick Shava, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in Cape Town.
A spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation Clayson Monyela said Shava was on a working visit to South Africa.
Monyela said the two ministers representing Pretoria and Harare were expected to discuss a wide range of bilateral, continental and international issues of mutual concern.
ZANU PF spokesperson in South Africa, Kennedy Mandaza, told African News Agency (ANA) that Shava’s tour of South Africa was significant in the sense that it affirmed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s drive to re-engage the international community. He said:
We believe that this meeting, if it is going to address issues that are critical to our constituency here in South Africa, it should look at addressing the policies that have to do with trade and investment so that we can strengthen the relations that already exist.
We should look at policies that seek to create an investment environment that is conducive, friendly and is of mutual benefit to both countries.
Another issue of interest that the ministers can address is immigration, particularly as it pertains to border issues – how best can we ensure that we have a one-stop border post and to lessen the travelling time of the people.
… The leaders should also look at how our people based here in South Africa are going to get the vaccination against COVID-19.
There are still grey areas on whether Zimbabwean people here are going to be vaccinated and when will this be done. The issue of COVID-19 should also be looked at.
Meanwhile, Shelton Chiyangwa, South Africa chairperson of the opposition MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora said the diplomatic meeting was a waste of time and resources. Said Chiyangwa:
We find these continued bilateral talks as a continued waste of resources if they don’t address real issues affecting our people.
Zimbabwe is seriously under siege and South Africa continues to show a blind eye to the crisis.
We call upon Minister Pandor to address human rights violations in the country.
Chiyangwa said Shava should start enquiring about Pretoria’s decision on the special dispensation permits, the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) given to more than 180 000 Zimbabwean nationals working and doing business across South Africa.
Trust Ndlovu, chairperson of the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance said South Africa and Harare engagements were much ado about nothing. He said:
Regarding this bilateral engagement, there is very little we can read from their engagement, given their historical background.
There has not been much they have done to improve the political, economic and human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
Possibly, they should discuss issues regarding the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits problem.
Right now there are thousands and thousands of Zimbabweans stranded in South Africa without knowing what will happen to them regarding the extension of those permits.
According to African News Agency, the four-year ZEPs were issued effectively from January 1, 2018, and are set to expire on December 31, 2021.
Part of the ZEP conditions is that they are not renewable and do not entitle holders to apply for permanent residence, irrespective of the period of stay in South Africa.