S Africans urged to tolerate Zim refugees

Friday, June 26, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Sirte - Government has urged South Africans to tolerate the situation of Zimbabwean refugees until such time the economic situation improves in that country.

"As South Africa, we must still continue to play our part, by trying to manage the situation of the Zimbabweans in an orderly manner so that over time they can be able to go back to their country," Department of International Relations and Cooperation Director General Ayanda Ntsuluba said on Monday.

Speaking to BuaNews, he said, South Africa accepts that it was still relatively early for the Zimbabweans currently living in the country to go back home.

"We accept as South Africa that the process of movement of people to Zimbabwe is going to be related to the improvement of the economic crisis in Zimbabwe," he said, adding that it was for this reason that the Department of Home Affairs created the special dispensation for Zimbabweans.

"We understand the concerns ... but some of them are in South Africa for economic reasons because there is a high level of unemployment and poverty and the global economic downturn has also impacted on that county's industries so it's going to take a bit of time," he said.

In order to ensure that the process at home improves, Dr Ntsuluba called on the international community to play an active role in reconstructing Zimbabwe.

He said South Africa was happy with the progress that has been made so far.

Dr Ntsuluba's comments come days after Zimbabwe's Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, shared the same sentiments at a media briefing in Johannesburg.

"While professionals are needed, it is still too early for many Zimbabweans to return to the neighbouring country from South Africa," he told the media after a three-week tour of Europe and the United States (US).

The purpose of his tour was to repair the country's relationship with the West and raise funds for reconstruction, as opposed to only receiving humanitarian aid.

"We've had a positive response from all the countries. We still have to follow up," Mr Tsvangirai said.

Zimbabwe has appealed for $8.3 billion to rebuild the economy. Mr Tsvangirai's trip raised slightly above $200 million to be channeled through non governmental organisations.

France and Britain have both promised humanitarian aid, to be distributed by non-governmental organisations and charities.

US President, Barack Obama has also promised about R575 million with conditions, while German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, pledged humanitarian assistance but said developmental aid would be connected to compensation for white farmers who lost their land in invasions.

Zimbabwe's inclusive Government, which was formed on 11 February, is tasked with steering Zimbabwe back to stability.

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