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Dianah Chiyangwa

PRETORIA – Zimbabwe has undergone decades of economic decline and political instability, and these have resulted in many Zimbabweans leaving the country and relocating in the diaspora.

In response to Covid19 pandemic, many Zimbabweans in the neighboring country South Africa have decided to go back home. About 400 Zimbabwean nationals were repatriated from South Africa on Friday 15 May 2020.


The assisted repatriation of the distressed Zimbabwean nationals was made possible by Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Big Time Strategic Group Mr Justice Maphosa.

The Zimbabwean born businessman contributed towards the cost of hiring buses, personal protective gears to use when in quarantine centres in Zimbabwe. They teamed up with the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa and International Organisation for Migration IOM) United Nations Migration.

Many Zimbabwean nationals are struggling to make ends meet since the implementation of the national lockdown that imposed by the South African government on the 26 th of March 2020. While others are relying on food aid programs, others felt that its time they headed back home.

There is growing fear that, after the lockdown is lifted they will lose their jobs. The Minister of Employment and Labour Mr. Thulasi Nxesi told Parliament that his department must implement strict measures prohibiting the hiring of foreign nationals, especially those who are working in the restaurants, hotels, security companies, domestic workers and construction.

He indicated that those industries have many foreign employees than the local citizens and among them are Zimbabweans nationals. Many Zimbabweans raised their concerns with the government’s
decision to eliminate foreign nationals in most companies, and over the years Zimbabweans are said to have dominated in those industries mention by Nxesi.

Khulekani Ndlovu 24, from Bulawayo Zimbabwe is one of the repatriates who have decided go back home. Since the lockdown, he lost his part time job as a painter. “I cannot continue to afford living here in South Africa,” Ndlovu said. “When I saw post on Facebook about Zimbabweans who wants to be repatriation I wasted no time in responding to the link that was provided by the Zimbabwean Embassy” he further explained.

Ndlovu and other Zimbabwean nationals expressed their gratitude to the government of Zimbabwe and to well-wishers who assisted in this free repatriation.

The IOM team conducted the pre embankment medical check and distribution of Covid19 information sheet for IOM travel. IOM’s Chief of Mission Lily Sanya, further explained to the travellers stringest measures put in place in the quarantine centres in Zimbabwe.

Upon embarking the buses, Sanya and her entire team provided travellers with sanitizers, gloves and masks. The Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Mr. David Hamadziripi witnessed the repatriation at Magnolia Dell Park in Pretoria, where buses bound for Harare and Bulawayo were waiting to ferry travellers.

Mr. Hamadziripi indicated that there are over 2600 distressed Zimbabweans in South Africa, and called for other well-wishers to donate towards the funding of the humanitarian repatriation of other citizens. “If there are those who still want to return to
Zimbabwe whether they are self-funding or want to be assisted can still contact the embassy or consulates in Johannesburg and Cape Town for necessary assistance ’ Mr. Hamadziripi said.

As of 15 May 2020, 13.524 of Covid19 cases and 247 deaths have been recorded in South Africa. Recoveries stand at 6083 and tests done are at 421 555.

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