In a statement on Wednesday following their inspection of the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, the DA claims home affairs officials are not coping with the renewed and escalated challenge.
The party’s MP Jacques Julius said they were at the Beitbridge border post to assess conditions followingthe unrest and violence in the neighbouring country.
“It was important for us to check the readiness of Home Affairs officials at the border, as thousands of people are expected to seek economic refuge and safety in South Africa.
“During our visit to the Beitbridge Border, the DA engaged with officials who confirmed our suspicions. The already compromised immigration system at Beitbridge is crumbling under the pressure of thousands who are seeking refuge as they are running away from what has become a nightmare in their own country.
“During the oversight it was clear that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assertion that all is well in Zimbabwe and that economic sanctions should be lifted is not only untrue but also deeply irresponsible. People have died. Bystanders have been shot senselessly, homes have been raided and the entire country is on lockdown. According to the border officials there was a single day in January when over 130,000 people crossed the border to South Africa.
“The ripple effect of this is that the understaffed Home Affairs officials are not prepared for such demand.
He said the situation in Zimbabwe had developed into a humanitarian crisis as local authorities had cracked down on protestors and civilians.
“The crisis in Zimbabwe will no doubt exacerbate what is already a broken South African immigration system, which is failing to offer efficient and effective immigration services.
“Thus, it is imperative that our borders are adequately resourced and prepared for the expected influx of Zimbabweans seeking passage into South Africa. While our doors must always be open to legitimate refugees and asylum seekers, it cannot simply be a free-for-all lawless situation.”
Julius said he had written to Ramaphosa not to adopt the “quiet diplomacy” on Zimbabwe that had defined the Mbeki administration.
“South Africa cannot handle this crisis in Zimbabwe the same way former president Thabo Mbeki did.”
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)