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Zimbabweans stay put in SA

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THE majority of Zimbabweans based in South Africa are not keen to come back despite their exposure to xenophobic attacks as they fear arbitrary arrests and possible disappearance at the hands of the Zanu PF government, former minister David Coltart has said.

BY NQOBILE BHEBHE

Slightly over 1 500 Zimbabweans out of an estimated three million based in South Africa have reportedly volunteered to be repatriated following the recent xenophobic attacks.

At least 400 Zimbabweans staying in Durban crossed into the country on Monday evening and spent the night at a camp set up in Beitbridge.
More than three million Zimbabweans are believed to be living in the neighbouring country with a majority having left in the past decade to escape a devastating economic crisis and political unrest.

Coltart, who served as Education minister in the inclusive government whose term ended in 2013, yesterday said government’s “grandstanding” was a bid to distract attention from confronting the root of the problem which is Zanu PF’s own economic policies.

“Many Zimbabweans living in South Africa fear coming home —they fear arbitrary arrest. That is why they would rather remain in South Africa, because for all the xenophobic attacks they still feel safer there than in Zimbabwe,” Coltart said.

He added: “In a blaze of publicity, the Zimbabwean government has dispatched six buses and a haulage truck to South Africa to repatriate victims. While this action is welcome, the reality is that this is just a drop in the ocean in terms of what is needed.

“There are literally millions of Zimbabweans in South Africa and repatriating 400 of them provides no long-term solution.

“In fact, if anything the danger of grandstanding is that it distracts everyone from confronting the root of the problem — which is
Zanu PF’s own economic policies and its negative attitude towards democracy in Zimbabwe.”

Coltart said most Zimbabweans would never have gone to South Africa if it was not for “Zanu PF’s violent and chaotic rule”.

“It follows that the only long-term solution, as far as Zimbabweans living in South Africa are concerned, is for the Zimbabwe government to get its act together to create an environment within Zimbabwe conducive for Zimbabweans to return home.”

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