By Tulani J Ngwenya
Recently the Zimbabwe Migrants Network (ZiMSN) came to the rescue of a Durban based Zimbabwean family which had been evicted from their place of residence because they had failed to pay their rentals. The single mother and her four children had to brave the elements on the streets of Durban the night they were evicted.
The head of Department for Women and Children at the Zimbabwe Migrants Network, Ms Ruth Tafadzwa Nyamadzawo who is stationed in Durban quickly actioned a plan of rescue for the family by organizing a temporary place of residence for the family.
When this article was published, ZiMSN’s Ms Ruth Tafadzwa Nyamadzawo had started mobilizing support for the family’s wellbeing in the form of food, stationary and school uniforms for the children, blankets and also cash for rentals.
The Zimbabwe Migrants Network’s vision centers on offering assistance to migrants living in South Africa.
The organization envisions a society that values the diverse contributions of immigrants in the communities they live in to promote the enrichment of the migrants’ lives.
The organization was formed with the purpose of informing, educating and giving assistance to Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa on issues surrounding their legal residence in the country.
This non-profit organization identifies and assists every migrant in need of assistance on issues pertaining to immigration, refugee rights, education, labour issues, domestic violence and counselling, access to health and legal assistance inside South Africa.
It also sets out to empower every Zimbabwean to fully participate in South African societies through community integration programs. It is under this mandate that the destitute family was given assistance by Zimbabwe Migrants Network.
Challenges facing Zimbabwean asylum seekers and refugees
The challenges facing Zimbabwean asylum seekers and refugees are significant but there are solutions like for instance the implementing of the Refugees Act.
The Refugees Act has been labelled ‘one of the most progressive in the world’ and provides a strong urban refugee protection system. If implemented properly, it can set an example for refugee protection.
Proper implementation means addressing the major challenges in the system and rooting out corruption and mismanagement.
The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa needs to demonstrate that it can implement the asylum regime in a lawful manner according to the Constitution and Refugees Act.
Having a fair and efficient asylum system ensures that genuine refugees receive protection, and that those without asylum claims are processed appropriately and quickly.
Having a functioning asylum system is in the interests of both the South African state and Zimbabwean applicants themselves. The South African government also needs to implement an immigration regime that promotes development.
The Immigration Act, the legislation regulating regular immigration matters, does not allow for the legal migration of low to medium skilled migrants, in this case Zimbabweans.
This does not match the reality of migration in southern Africa, and many individuals who migrate for non-refugee reasons apply for asylum due to a lack of knowledge on the asylum system and a lack of other viable options.
As the National Development Plan has recognized, migration is likely to increase in South Africa and it should be harnessed to promote development rather.
Ruth Nyamadzawo study on child birth registration
The Department’s 2017 White Paper on International Migration also recognizes this imbalance, and calls for policy interventions to allow for carefully managed economic migration from neighboring countries like Zimbabwe, including regularization programme to provide permit options for undocumented Zimbabweans already in South Africa; the introduction of new visa options to cater to economic migrants in the region; and a stronger focus on employers who exploit undocumented migrants.
The introduction of these policies would lessen the burden on the asylum system and provide for a more effective asylum process focused on providing the international protection so many refugees require.
Currently Ms Ruth Tafadzwa Nyamadzawo is conducting a study on child birth registration and certificates for children whose parents do not hold valid travel documents in South Africa.
One of her aims is to identify children that have been affected by not possessing birth certificates and are not able to enroll at either preschool or primary school.
Thereafter she intends to find a policy that can assist such children to obtain the required documentation. Issues like these have seen many migrants’ children not attending school.
She is also looking into medical negligence cases that have affected women and their children where it led to either death or disability.
Her aim is to either lodge a case on their behalf or find ways to have them assisted in getting a disability grant. Hence the Zimbabwe Migrants Network has become an indispensable conduit through which Zimbabwean migrant problems are being addressed.
Contact reporter: Tulani Ngwenya on 071 557 5110.
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