The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA) Ngqabutho Mabhena has criticised Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Frederick Shava for his failure to consult fellow citizens based in South Africa over their expiring Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).

Shava was in South Africa on Wednesday last week where he discussed migration and the expiring permits, among other issues with Naledi Pandor, that country’s International Relations minister.

Mabhena told source that Shava was also supposed to consult ZEP holders before engaging the South African government. Said Mabhena:

How do you even say you are ready to welcome 170 000 people when you cannot take care of the ones already in the country who continue to flock to South Africa?

We feel the minister was supposed to also have a briefing with us to hear the concerns of fellow citizens and their challenges in getting the new permits before engaging Pandor.

Shava said Zimbabwe is ready to take back its citizens who fail to meet the requirement stipulated by SA for them to get other permits. He said:

This has been on the cards for some time since the South African government pronounced the end of ZEP permits. Zimbabweans are also aware of a time limit.

Those who fail to meet the requirements of South Africa are welcome back home.

We will be working on the modalities and the logistics of receiving them when they come.

The ZEP will expire at the end of this year. Its expiry is naturally causing much anxiety to the holders of this permit.

Our governments must work closely in the implementation of this decision. We are ready to receive our nationals back home.

At the same time, I’d like to reiterate our appeal to Zimbabweans in SA to observe and respect the laws of SA.