South Africa

Zimbabwe sanctions ‘hurting SA’ – says Ramaphosa; says migrants causing economic challenges

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying they “exert enormous pressure on us”.

“SA 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,” Ramaphosa said after a meeting with Spanish President Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Ramaphosa’s comments come two months after a video of Limpopo’s health MEC Phophi Ramathuba berating a Zimbabwean patient at the Bela Bela Regional Hospital went viral on social media, sparking an outcry.

In the encounter, Ramathuba said the woman should have been treated in her home country because foreigners were placing a burden on SA’s healthcare system.

Ramaphosa said the sanctions that have been applied by various countries, especially on the African continent and Zimbabwe in particular, are having a negative affect on SA and Sadc.

“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, Namibia, and they exert enormous pressure on us.”

SA was concerned about those countries that sanction others for selfish gains, Ramaphosa said, adding they “continue to weaken countries that are contributing migrants to other countries”.

Those countries “don’t seem to care about the effect [of sanctions] 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 … because their country’s economy will be glowing,” Ramaphosa said  If sanctions were lifted, the Zimbabwean economy “can get back on its feet and be what it used to be.

In that way, the Zimbabweans that left will find great incentives to go back and to lead normal lives in their own country,” he added.

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