Increasing independent voices and their moral weight

One hugely important SA institution, the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) supported the HSF’s bid to challenge the decision to terminate the ZEP, a move which it said will not do anything to solve the issues of unemployment, poverty and inequality bedevilling SA.

SALC founding director Nicole Fritz argued that the decision to suspend ZEP permits was a political ploy by certain individuals who were attempting to distract South Africans from poor governance failures as the cause of their economic situation and pinning it on foreigners.

Her opinion and voice really matters especially coming from a well-respected SA institution.

Fritz zeros in on the source and cause of economic problems that are affecting South Africans today, a scenario which has largely been played down by politicians, who were now trying to blame the  influx of foreigners in SA.

“For those who say that the ZEP must be cancelled because of SA’s unemployment rate, it is worth remembering: there are approximately 7.8 million unemployed South Africans. Even if all 178 000 ZEP holders have jobs that might be transferred to South Africans (a wildly inaccurate assumption) the impact that would have on our unemployment rate would be very small. Importantly, studies have shown again and again that migrants help create jobs within an economy,” said Fritz.

“We at HSF entirely understand why so many South Africans are angry and frustrated at the unemployment, poverty, inequality and lack of security they experience. But the idea that termination of ZEP solves any of these enormous problems is wrong and political actors who say differently do so because it pays to scapegoat others as a distraction from governance failures and because stoking hatred and division is often an easier, cheaper path to leadership than principles and vision.”

Africa Diaspora Global Network chairperson Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda concurred with the assertions made by HSF, saying the SA government was being irrational in its decision as conditions in Zimbabwe have continued to deteriorate since 2007.

“Considering that the HSF has already taken their government to court, especially where it feels that government is not doing things appropriately and considering that it is a SA organisation that is trying to hold government to account, it’s going to be an important step,” said Dr Sibanda.

“Many Zimbabweans working in SA and have actually made SA a home especially after a minimum of 13 years of residence considering that some came to SA as early as 2000 but got regularised in 2009. So they have been living in the country for a longer period of time to think that they will just up and leave, it’s very difficult and a very hard ask for them.

“So yes we think that the HSF is very welcome and people are very happy about it and a lot of people are actually breathing a sigh of relief because the Helen Suzman Foundation can afford counsel because they have the resources.”

Dr Sibanda further expressed optimism that the HSF will be able to bring Zimbabweans in SA the reprieve that they need and help to reverse the decision by the Home Affairs department to suspend the ZEP which was not taken in a procedural manner.

“There are quite a few people who think it’s pro-white, but we know that people who think along those lines are those who are against the revisiting of that particular decision and want Zimbabweans out of SA. It really means a lot for the Helen Suzman Foundation to basically come up especially as a reprieve for the people that are from Zimbabwe,” he said.

Dr Sibanda said because the SA Home Affairs department flouted its own rules and procedures, it was very likely that the matter would be sent back to the department so that they can start the whole process again.

This, he said, would give the affected people an opportunity to make representations since the January notification had come at an impossibly have short notice.

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