A total of 178 412 Zimbabweans who were on exemption permits are expected to return to the country at the end of June if they fail to get alternative permits.
Zimbabweans on exemption permits are, however, believed to be only a small fraction of Zimbabweans living in the neighbouring country.
Writing in his weekly column in the Sunday Mail, Mnangagwa said it was important to welcome back returning citizens because Zimbabwe was their home. It was therefore their inalienable right to be accommodated back in their homeland.
“In leaving the country to scout for opportunities, they never renounced their citizenship; if anything, they became even more acutely aware of its value and the need for it to assure them of a permanent place they call home,” he said.
“Second, no returning citizen is a cost to his country of birth. These returning citizens are highly skilled and proficient in various trades we need for the recovery and growth of our economy. They are, thus, part of our manpower strategy for National Development Strategy 1 and Vision 2030,” the President said.
“Even where some might have weak or no skills, it is our responsibility to equip them with skills that guarantee them gainful employment and a wherewithal to live.
“Third and broadly, for far too long, detractors of both Zimbabwe and South Africa have been using this Zimbabwe emigre community to attack and strain our excellent bilateral relations.
“Equally, the false ogre created out of this emigre community was being used to dodge frank and honest discussions on the baneful legacies of colonialism and apartheid in our whole region, and on the impact of illegal and punitive Western sanctions against Zimbabwe on our region.”
Mnangagwa said with Zimbabweans out of the way, “this red herring will no longer be available for abuse by these detractors who now have to confront real facts of a bad history and vindictive contemporary politics of illegal sanctions”.
He went on: “Equally, those who have been scapegoating our nationals resident in South Africa for persistent ills stemming from a long apartheid will now have to explain why certain problems will continue to bedevil our two post-colonial and post-apartheid societies long after the last Zimbabwean has left South African soil.
“Removing migrant Zimbabwean labourers out of this deliberately distorted equation will help us see reality, however hard, and help us all to plan our relations in the context of regional integration and the hope for a continental free trade area where capital, goods, services and labour freely move across borders.
“Above all, this will help us plan for a spatially balanced regional industrialisation policy to ensure no one economy spews surplus labour to the rest, while another plays sponge to high unemployment in the rest. We are on the cusp of a new Southern Africa.”
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