Zimbabwe has warned its citizens in South Africa to be vigilant after some local groups launched campaigns against foreign nationals in that country, whom they accuse of depriving them of economic opportunities.
Some South Africans in cities such as Johannesburg have been displacing foreigners from trading areas, even as xenophobic sentiments continue to be aired in the region’s leading economy.
The Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa on Tuesday issued an advisory note, saying it was disturbed by the threats against foreign nationals.
“The embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe in the Republic of South Africa and its consulates in Cape Town and Johannesburg have received reports of disturbing events that recently took place and affected Zimbabwean nationals in parts of Johannesburg and Lephalale in the Limpopo Province,” read the advisory.
“In these instances, foreign nationals reportedly received threats of unspecified action, including forced eviction, if they did not leave the country by a certain date.
“The embassy and the consulates are aware of the anxiety brought by the non-renewal of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits and their termination on December 31, 2022.”
The statement further added that “The embassy and the consulates urge all Zimbabwe nationals in the Republic of South Africa to be vigilant and to be law abiding.”
South Africa announced last month that it was scrapping the Zimbabwe Exemption (ZEP), which will leave nearly 200, 000 undocumented Zimbabweans facing deportation at the end of the year.
The scheme was introduced in 2009 to account for undocumented Zimbabweans in South Africa.
It is believed that South Africa is host to over a million economic refugees from Zimbabwe, most of whom remain undocumented.
South Africa is battling an influx of illegal immigrants, especially from Zimbabwe, who are running away from economic hardships and political instability.
The issue of migrants has divided opinion in South Africa with new opposition parties pushing for tougher immigration laws.
In last year’s local government elections, some fringe political parties campaigned on the promise to rid the country of illegal immigrants and some political analysts argued that this contributed to the poor performance of the ruling ANC in the polls.