Gwanda North Ward 2 Councillor, Zwelibanzi Mpofu said the decision by South Africa not to renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP), will affect the livelihoods of many villagers in Matabeleland South Province, fuelling hunger and crime.
Matabeleland South is home to thousands of Zimbabweans who migrated to South Africa over the years both legally and illegally, running away from a dysfunctional economy.
On 25 November, the South African government announced that it would no longer renew the special permits, leaving thousands facing an uncertain future.
The special permits expire on 31 December this year and about 180 000 Zimbabweans are holders of the permits.
The ZEP holders have been given a grace period of 12 months, that is until the end of 2022, to either move to other permits if they qualify or leave that country before being deported.
Speaking to CITE over the weekend in Dadata, Gwanda North, Mpofu said the non-renewal of permits will negatively impact local communities. She said:
This is a serious challenge for our children outside the country. We, who are on this side are dependent on those who are in South Africa.
While I might not have a child in South Africa, the fact that my neighbour has a child in South Africa, I can’t sleep on an empty stomach.
My child cannot be turned away from school when my neighbour has a husband in South Africa.
I can go and ask for help from her and be assisted.
She said hunger and robbery cases will likely increase as people lose their livelihoods.
Mpofu called on the Government to intervene and help the affected people to have their permits renewed so they can continue work in South Africa.