The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development has asked the Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministry to use its diplomatic channels and engage the South African government over the non-renewal of local truck drivers’ work permits saying their termination would affect cross border and regional trade.
Such high-level engagement would prevent a potentially volatile situation, said the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Engineer Theodius Chinyanga, noting that foreign truck drivers were prone to attacks by violent gangs in South Africa.
Eng. Chinyanga expressed these concerns in a letter dated November 25, 2021, to the permanent secretary of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ambassador James Manzou.
However, Engineer Chinyanga has just been re-assigned to be the new permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Housing and Social Amenities.
This matter comes after the South African government on November 25, 2021, announced it would no longer extend Zimbabwean special permits, urging holders of the current permits to move to other permits or leave the country by the end of 2022.
Eng. Chinyanga noted that South African companies who had contracted foreigners as drivers were now under pressure to employ their nationals yet cross border trade should continue.
“Consequently, this will lead to a possible termination of employment contracts of Zimbabwean drivers if their work permits are not renewed. This is a major concern for our truck drivers and transport operators as our bilateral and regional protocols provide that cross border road transport must be conducted in the spirit of fair competition providing for equal treatment and upholding the principles of non-discrimination and reciprocity,” Chinyanga said.
He added that termination of Zimbabwean truck drivers’ work permits would in turn affect bilateral protocols.
“These protocols are meant to facilitate the smooth flow of cross border traffic and promote trade within the SADC and COMESA regions.”
Eng. Chinyanga noted that truck drivers played a key role in the SADC economy moving goods therefore must be treated with dignity.
“It is important to note that truck drivers are also key drivers of our economy within SADC therefore must be treated with dignity, and protected by every country in the region. Therefore we kindly request your intervention and use the diplomatic channels at your disposal to avert a potential volatile situation,” he said.