HUNDREDS of Zimbabwean teachers working in neighbouring South Africa this week applied for the SA Educators Council certificate to avoid deportation as they hold Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs) which expired on December 31, 2021.
After the expiry of ZEP permits, the estimated 200 000 immigrants were given a grace period of 12 months to apply for other permits to avoid deportation.
Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA) chairperson Ngqabutho Mabhena yesterday told NewsDay that some Zimbabwean teachers in the neighbouring country had since applied for South Africa Educators Council certificate to secure their stay.
“This week as schools are opening in South Africa, most teachers (Zimbabwean) are trying to get their SA Educators Council certificates. Some have submitted their applications and officials from the SA Council of Educators are saying they will sit this week to make a determination on how to handle issues of holders of ZEPs,” Mabhena said.
“So we await the meeting of the SA Education Council this week so that they give guidance on how they are going to proceed because if they do not accept, the permits will expire on December 31, 2022, then we are going to have a crisis.”
South Africans are lobbying for the deportation of all Zimbabweans working in that country, with threats of vandalism of property at companies and institutions where they work.
Estimates are that South Africa is home to over 10 000 Zimbabwean teachers who left the country to seek greener pastures.
Meanwhile, South African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema yesterday raised concern over the high numbers of employed foreigners compared to locals in South Africa.
Addressing the #EFFSiyabonga rally, the EFF leader said they did not have a problem with their African counterparts, but wanted the employment circles, particularly the hospitality industry, to be accountable.
Referred to as Makwerekwere, a derogatory term for foreigners in South Africa, especially Zimbabweans, millions of Zimbabweans have found themselves on the other side of the Limpopo fleeing political persecution and perennial economic crisis.
In a video clip that went viral on social media, Malema said he wanted to know why more foreigners were working in the hospitality industry against a small number of South Africans.
“We are poor, we are unemployed and we want jobs but if you go to a restaurant, foreigners are working in restaurants, do not hate foreigners, hate the owner of that restaurant because those foreigners did not hire themselves,” he said.
“We do not fight with our African brothers, we are together, but if I get a tender, the law says you must hire locally. Why is that law not applied in Hilton hotels? Why is that law not applying in Signature restaurants in Johannesburg? Every hospitality industry must be visited. It’s a programme of the EFF. Do not fight our African brothers and sisters. They did not hire themselves.”