No xenophobia says Home Affairs Minister as SA seeks to curb immigration, plans policy revamp

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By Bloomberg News

South Africa plans to end most special permits for foreigners as it revamps its immigration policies to manage an influx of economic migrants.

The government announced that a special dispensation allowing Zimbabweans to live and work in South Africa will expire at the end of this year, while similar concessions for about 90,000 people from neighbouring Lesotho will expire in 2023 and won’t be extended, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said. Permits for Angolan residents were terminated in August 2021.

“We are not targeting” any particular nationality, Motsoaledi, 64, said in an interview in Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office. Many “economic migrants” abused the nation’s asylum provisions by falsifying reasons for leaving their countries, he said, adding that implementing sovereign laws wasn’t xenophobic.

Africa’s most industrialised nation has been a magnet for people seeking better economic opportunities from across the continent, particularly from the Southern African Development Community countries. Arrivals ballooned in 2008 as the global financial crisis combined with an economic collapse in Zimbabwe triggered mass migration, the minister said.


That year as many as 227,000 people from Zimbabwe moved to its southern neighbour, according to Motsoaledi, a medical doctor by profession. Many were given permits, which were extended until 2021.