THE High Commission of Zambia in South Africa has expressed concern over reports that some Zambians living in South Africa were on asylum seeker permits.
Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba has said that it was inconceivable that there could be any Zambian living outside the country on account of not being safe in Zambia.
Mr. Mwamba pointed out that permits for asylum seekers were granted to people from countries that were at war or were facing various forms of instability that did not make it conducive for human habitation.
“Zambia has never been at war with itself or with another country. Zambia has been a peaceful country from the time we gained independence. Even the times we needed to change leadership, we have done so without significant physical conflict to scare away anyone. In fact it is Zambia that has been receiving refugees all these years because the country has been found to be one of the most peaceful countries in the world,” Mr. Mwamba said.
“It is therefore strange to hear of Zambians living in South Africa on permits that are meant for asylum seekers. I wonder what reasons they give to authorities when they go to apply for these permits.”
The High Commissioner said Zambians should be proud of their country and be wary of what they did or how they conducted themselves so that they did not portray a negative image of the country.
Mr. Mwamba was commenting in the wake of reports that foreign nationals, including Zambians, living in South Africa on asylum seeker permits were being arrested by authorities when they went to renew their documents.
He said the High Commission planned to start negotiations with South Africa for a special permit status for Zambians owing to historical relations between the two countries.
And African Diaspora Forum (ADF) project coordinator, Nkanyezi Ndlovu confirmed that foreign nationals from various countries were being arrested each time they went to the South African Home Affairs offices to renew their documents.
Mr. Ndlovu said the arrests intensified in the last three weeks when ADF would receive reports of as many as 200 nationals being arrested in a period of three days.
He said renewal of documents went on smoothly before this and that the only problem had been the short extensions that they used to get.
“These arrests seem to have intensified over the last three weeks. We are receiving over 200 reports of arrests in two to three days through our hotline. There are also a lot of other cases that we learn about through other avenues. So there are a lot more of our people that have been arrested while others have already been deported,” Mr. Ndlovu said.