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Zim expatriates urged to stay put as SA extends lockdown

Zimbabwean expatriates in South Africa have been urged to stay put following the neighbouring country’s extension of COVID-19 lockdown by two more weeks.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, on Thursday, extended the national lockdown to curb the spread of the Coronavirus by 14 days until the end of this month as infections continue to mount.

The initial shutdown imposed on March 27 was set to end on April 16.

South Africa had by Thursday recorded 1, 934 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“The struggle against the Coronavirus is far from over,” said Ramaphosa.

“If we end the lockdown too soon and too abruptly, we risk massive and uncontrollable upsurge in the disease.”

In a statement last night, the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, welcomed the decision taken by South African authorities while urging compatriots to continue complying with the lockdown regulations.

“We would like to acknowledge the efforts and actions taken by the South African government,” said the association’s spokesperson, Bongani Mkwananzi.

“While many of our compatriots are heavily affected by these measures, we urge them to stay at home and comply with the lock-down regulations. Many issues have been raised by our fellow compatriots; from loss of income from the “no work, no pay” employers’ principle, restrictions on the remittance of goods back home where they have families heavily dependent on them, prospects of failing to meet their rental obligations, inability to secure vending permits, inability and difficulty on issues related to the repatriation of their deceased during this lock-down, to issues of failing to put a meal on their tables since many live from month to month earnings and hardly can manage to save income gained from the meagre wages/salaries they make from mostly menial service industry jobs.”

Mkwananzi said there were some Zimbabweans who had visited South Africa prior to the lockdown whose allowed number of days to stay have since expired.

“We call upon our compatriots to hang in there! Please continue to stay at home and remain in the republic,” Mkwananzi urged them.

“The same lock-down measures are being taken in Zimbabwe and the President of the Republic of South Africa has reiterated that joint efforts to fight the virus are being made with all other African countries. The less movement the better the chances of not spreading the virus or getting infected by it. We call on the government not to declare those who have overstayed as undesirable.”

Mkwananzi said the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa was calling upon all employers to facilitate the applications to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to assist those Zimbabweans who have been and should have been making their contributions to the fund, to get their benefits.

“The Zimbabwe Community in SA will be in liaison with all stakeholders who can assist our fellow compatriots to ease their circumstances so as to manage their stay at their homes during this difficult and unexpected situation,” said Mkwananzi.

“We, therefore, call on any other organisations which represent the interests of Zimbabweans to join hands and channel any initiatives to aid our fellow countrymen into a combined effort to maximise its impact and reach the breath of our Community.

We further call upon our fellow countrymen as well as our hosts to continue to adhere to preventative measures and constantly wash their hands, avoid physical contact and where possible ready their immune systems with healthy foods and home remedies. They must take care of their bodies so that in case of infection, they can withstand the diseases they may face.”

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