Anger is simmering in southern Africa over the suspension of omicron travel visas to Zimbabwe and Namibia. Most Zimbabweans in South Africa with a tangible connection to the country will not be able to return to the country because of the sanctions, which Western powers have imposed to punish President Robert Mugabe for allegedly ruling Zimbabwe with a brutal hand for nearly four decades.
The Zimbabwe Association of Commerce and Industry is lobbying the South African government to lift the ban on visas for its members. “This year alone, our members have lost more than 50 percent of their business,” executive director Kudzanai Chipanga said in a statement. “We plan to fight to have Zimbabwe’s omicron and other travel visas conditionality removed from our visa requirement list.”
Chipanga’s colleagues in Namibia are feeling similarly frustrated and implored their government to open up their borders to Zimbabweans to restart economic ties. On Tuesday, Namibia Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said she was grateful for Zimbabwe’s support during a time of crisis. “That support was such that the Namibian Government launched Namibia-Zimbabwe partnership protocol in March this year, which guarantees infrastructure connectivity between the two countries and strengthens ties and trade between the two countries,” she told the country’s parliament. “I, therefore, urge the people of Namibia to re-unite and come back together as one nation, and lift all opprobrium by Zimbabweans and Namibians alike, while peacefully contributing to improve economic cooperation between Namibia and Zimbabwe.”
The southern African region has long been home to large populations of Zimbabweans, and many of them say they have negative memories of the former regime. Some opposed the omicron travel ban, saying it was only helping to support the repressive regime. “They’re on the warpath to humiliate the Zimbabweans in South Africa,” Jacob Madoda, a Mozambican in London, told The Guardian. “They are cutting economic ties, but there are ways to maintain a clandestine diplomacy, which is a shortcut, and you’re not talking of war.”
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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