The Government has entered into a partnership with Zimbabwean businessman, Mr Justice Maphosa, the Chief Executive and Founder of Bigtime Strategic Group, to roll out an assisted repatriation programme to transport 400 of its citizens from South Africa via Beitbridge Border Post.
The deal is the brainchild of the Government through its embassy in Pretoria and the arrangement is set to benefit those Zimbabwean nationals who could not afford to travel back home using their own resources.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria said the package will cover the cost of hiring buses for around 400 Zimbabwean nationals, the provision of food for the travellers on the trip, and a provision of food and personal protective equipment while in quarantine in Zimbabwe.
“In addition, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Migration Agency, is providing technical support to the Embassy in planning and carrying out this humanitarian repatriation exercise,” said the embassy.
“The technical support includes coordination of pre-departure arrangements, pre-embarkation medical checks and distribution of COVID-19 related awareness material.
“The pre-embarkation checks will be done before every trip. It should also be noted that upon crossing into Zimbabwe, all the returnees are subjected to mandatory quarantine at designated centres. The costs thereof are carried by the Government of Zimbabwe.
“Subsequent communication will be made regarding the assistance for distressed Zimbabwean nationals who elect to remain within the borders of South Africa”.
According to the statement, the embassy has been reaching out to Zimbabweans within South Africa who are faced with numerous challenges and the response has been overwhelming.
It is understood that over 4000 Zimbabwean migrant workers in the neighbouring country have registered for different assistance packages with the embassy.
“There are buses set to ferry Zimbabwean nationals back home, under self-funded repatriation where the travellers pay for their own transportation. The carrying capacity has been strictly limited to 70 percent in order to comply with South Africa’s current lockdown regulations for public transport,” read part of the statement.
Upon arrival in the country, the returnees are dropped off at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) hotel which is being used as a quarantine and isolation centre.
They are then profiled, tested for Covid-19 and transported to quarantine centres near their homes.
So far a total of 227 people have been quarantined at the NSSA hotel, mostly those using their own transport, while more than 1000 who were assisted by the embassy passed through the centre in the last seven days.