Additionally, the GCIM’s research paper reveals that many adults in SADC countries have either parents or grandparents who have worked in South Africa in the past. “In every case, nearly a quarter or more people have grandparents who had worked in South Africa…About a quarter of the people in Namibia and Zimbabwe have parents who had worked in South Africa. So did 41% of Batswana, 54% of Mozambicans and 83% of Basotho.” It is this history that compels me to argue that the South African government ought to consider extending the concept of the ZDP to other foreign nationals from the SADC region.
Based on the foregoing, people from the SADC countries have political grounds to apply for South African papers that allow them to work and live in this country. Their fathers and grandfathers, after all, were exploited, like all blacks in this country, by a white supremacist regime in order to build the South African economy. In some cases, their fathers and grandfathers paid the ultimate price, dying from pneumonia and other lung diseases on the South African mines.
Perhaps it is worth noting that many people in the SADC region live in poverty and view South Africa as a place with many economic opportunities. Although South Africa has its own problems and challenges, the truth of the matter is that South Africa is the economic powerhouse in the region (some might argue on the whole continent). In a policy brief written for the Economic Justice Network, Dale McKinley argues that SADC member states have a population of about 250 million people and a combined GDP of some US$432bn - 65 percent of which comes from South Africa alone.
Needless to point out, South Africa became the regional economic powerhouse that it is today partly on the backs of immigrant labourers from the SADC who helped build the country’s economy. Is it unreasonable for people to want to share in the fruits of what they helped create?"
The Case for Opening SADC Borders: ‘We live here, we work here, we’re staying here!’ By Mandisi Majavu