ABOUT 200 Zimbabwean students studying in China who have been stranded in that country following the Covid-19 induced lockdown are expected to be repatriated back home, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Musabayana has stated.
Addressing Parliament on the policy on ensuring that citizens ‘stranded’ in foreign countries come back home, Musabayana said government is offering assistance with acquiring necessary traveling documents.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is particularly looking at the lives of Zimbabweans outside the country. Since the outbreak of Covid-19 we are helping all those who want to come back home,” said Musabayana.
“As I speak right now, we have an aeroplane which will be leaving in nine days coming from China because we have about 200 children and even more who will be coming back home. Air Zimbabwe will be bringing these children and all our citizens who want to come back home from other countries are being helped by Government workers, our missions in those countries.”
The deputy minister noted that although the government is financially incapacitated to bring all returnees home free of charge, arrangements are being made with CBZ bank to issue loans for those who do not have money.
“We have citizens like students, those who are working and people who visited those countries for other reasons. We are talking with CBZ bank for those who cannot afford to come back home. CBZ bank will assist them through issuing of loans which they will pay back in instalments but the Government would have assisted like in China where we sent an aeroplane,” he said.
“As Government, we are saying on the engagement and diplomacy where we are negotiating for easy access through the borders, we are using that department to assist people to cross the borders coming home including the issue of getting loans from CBZ.”
Musabayana urged the legislators to approach his ministry should there be cases where citizens who want to return face challenges.
“If you are aware of our citizens who want to come back from any country but are not able to do so and have no assistance, we are ready to assist them to come back home safely. U.S.A has got eight citizens who will be coming back to the country very soon and we are assisting,” he said.
According to figures released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 11 074 Zimbabweans living in foreign lands have returned home since the Covid-19-induced lockdown began.