There are already millions of Zimbabweans – legal and illegal – living in South Africa, but SA has been warned to expect a tsunami of people fleeing here.
The economy in Zimbabwe has collapsed, with petrol being increased recently to R46 a litre and money almost unobtainable.
The situation might have been alleviated late last year, when the Harare government asked for a $1.2 billion loan from South Africa. That might have enabled Zimbabwe to hold off international creditors for a while and borrow more money to keep the country afloat.
Had that loan gone through, there would have been howls of outrage from South Africans, not only because there was little chance of SA being repaid, but also because many feel that bailing out the corrupt and vicious Zanu-PF regime is none of SA’s business.
That latter concern is not without foundation: the new Zanu-PF government – even though it rid itself of Robert Mugabe – has proved no better at turning around the economy, yet still uses excessive force on opponents to cling to power.
However, the reality is that this country is partly complicit in the collapse of Zimbabwe.
In 2002, as Mugabe proclaimed victory after a contentious election against the growing opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), then SA president Thabo Mbeki buried a report by SA’s own judicial observer mission to those polls.
Judges Sisi Khampepe and Dikgang Moseneke said the elections could not be “considered free and fair”.
Mbeki probably believed at the time he was fostering peace, but he continued the African habit of covering up for tyrants and set the stage for what was to follow.
Had the MDC won in 2002, Zimbabwe would be a very different place today, especially had South Africa supported democracy.
Because it didn’t, South Africa must now bear the consequences.