South African Home Affairs Minister, Dr Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi has bemoaned the influx of illegal migrants coming into his country and claimed that at Musina Hospital in the country’s northernmost Limpopo Province, 70% of women giving birth at that medical facility are Zimbabwe nationals.
In an interview with Newzroom Afrika, Dr Motsoaledi implored on southern African immigrants coming to the region’s best economy to regularise their travel documents and avoid friction with law enforcement agents in his country.
Dr Motsoaledi made a blistering attack on illegal border jumpers from the Sadc region, saying:
“They don’t need a VISA to come South Africa. All you need is a passport (and) surely that cannot be demanding too much”.
“If you go to Musina Hospital now, and go to the labour ward- and I challenge you to do so- you’ll find that 70% of the women who are delivering there are from Zimbabwe- nobody stops them. And, when we arrest people, we are not arresting them for coming to South Africa. We are saying they must come officially and I want to emphasise that. All we are saying is don’t jump the border, don’t go to the border line- come to the border gate where you’re coming officially; especially people in the Sadc”.
An estimated figure of 2 million Zimbabweans are believed to be living and working in South Africa.
During the turn of the new millenium when Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes deteriorated following the chaotic land reform programme, there was an exodus of nationals from the landlocked southern African nation into neighboring South Africa.
Recently, the South African government made a decision not to extend the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) regime that expired on 31 December 2021, opting instead to let the programme lapse altogether.
This decision has left Zimbabweans in limbo as they are now faced with the tough choice of living from day to day in xenophobic South Africa, without official recognition, or going back home to a turbulent political scene where the ruling Zanu PF Government under Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, clings on to power.
While posting a video clip of Dr Motsoaledi on Twitter, rabble-rousing activist and award winning Zimbabwe international journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono said:
“South Africans Your Home Affairs Minister said 75% of women giving birth at Musina Hospital are Zimbabweans. It is true The biggest hospital in Zim only has 1 maternity theater working, it was built in 1977 If elections are rigged in 2023, more Zimbabweans will continue coming”.