PRETORIA, South Africa – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, saying they “exert enormous pressure on us”.
“South Africa has always been very open to the inflow of people from various parts of the continent but, with the economic challenges that our people are now facing through unemployment and inequality, the pressure becomes even greater,” said Ramaphosa on Thursday.
The president used the official visit by Spanish President Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón to address the migration question plaguing the country.
His remarks come two months after Limpopo’s health MEC Phophi Ramathuba received backlash after a video of her questioning an alleged undocumented patient at Bela Bela Regional Hospital about her nationality went viral on social media.
In the encounter, Ramathuba said the woman should have been treated in her home country (Zimbabwe) because foreigners were placing a burden on health care in South Africa. She ordered the hospital to charge the woman.
MUST WATCH | President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe saying, “these exert pressure on the countries trying to accommodate the migrants.” @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/elcpgkfq5Z
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Speaking at the Union Buildings, Ramaphosa told the media sanctions that have been applied by various countries, especially on the African continent, particularly on Zimbabwe, are having a negative affect on South Africa.
“Not only on Zimbabwe’s economy but also on a number of countries in the Southern African Development Community region,” he said.
“They are also having a negative affect on us because as the sanctions weaken the Zimbabwean economy, Zimbabweans … migrate to our country and others in the sub-region, to Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and they exert enormous pressure on us.”
South Africa, he said, was concerned about those countries that sanction other states for selfish gains, adding they “continue to weaken countries that are contributing migrants to other countries”.
Those countries, said Ramaphosa, “are disinterested and actually don’t seem to care about the effect [of this] because they are targeting certain other individuals or countries and the effect is much broader than that.
“We should be able to bolster the economies of those countries so that the people can have less of an incentive to leave their countries to go to other countries because their country’s economies will be glowing.”
If sanctions are lifted, the Zimbabwean economy “can get back on its feet and be what it used to be. In that way, the Zimbabweans that left Zimbabwe will find great incentives to go back and to lead normal lives in their own country.”