Undocumented Zimbabwean migrants, living and working in South Africa (injiva) have been advised against travelling home for the Christmas holidays, to avoid facing challenges when returning to their bases.
Those properly documented, who manage to travel for the festive season have been urged to be financially prudent in light of the latest financial challenges in Zimbabwe.
African Diaspora Forum (ADF) chairperson Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda, who is based in Johannesburg, told CITE that injiva should sort out proper travelling documents so that they do not face problems.
“Do not travel because of pressure from family or to do it because everyone else is doing it. Do not travel simply because you want to be at home and yet you know there are risks of you getting arrested when you get back to your home country,” he warned.
“Do not leave the country if you do not have the correct travelling documents because you may find yourself stuck and unable to come back to work or your business. Asylum papers and many refugee IDs are not travelling documents and cannot allow you to cross borders”.
ADF is an organisation that looks into migrant related issues such as documentation and safety.
It was established in reaction to the xenophobic attacks that arose in May 2008.
Dr Sibanda noted that during the festive season, many migrants travel back home to visit their families despite the difficult economic and political conditions in their countries.
“There are many challenges in the new year that relate to school fees, rentals and other financial commitments that people often forget about or shelve during the excitement of festive spending. This often leads to over-indebtedness in the New Year and problems with handling finances throughout the course of the following year,” he noted.
He advised migrants to be financially prudent as recklessness spending could have far-reaching implications both at home and in South Africa.
“It is with this in mind that we urge all people to exercise restraint and prudence in making financial decisions including travelling arrangements.”
Dr Sibanda highlighted that some migrants defied their migration statuses in order to come back home yet that posed risks for them.
“Many will be saying we crossed illegally before and will do so on the return, and this is a risk not worth taking. Many other countries, if they give one temporary or permanent residence on political persecution, they are most likely and reasonably not understand why one would still want to risk their life by going back to the same country to visit remaining family.
“As much as we take this risk the issuing authority will not see that your life is in danger if you keep sneaking in and out of that country. They will not easily accept that you are merely taking a risk because you want to keep contact with the family at large,” he said.
Thousands of Zimbabweans based in neighbouring countries and in the diaspora often make a beeline during holidays to visit their families and relatives.