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Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

Deputy digital news editor

RFA concerned ZEP extension will further infuriate local truck drivers

Local truck drivers are frustrated, saying they have been side lined by employers in favour of foreigner nationals for the past three years.

The Road Freight Association (RFA) says it is concerned the decision by the Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to extend the validity of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) will lead to violence and disruptions in the road freight sector among truck drivers.

In April, frustrated truck drivers threatened to shut down major routes, bringing the country’s supply chain to a halt if their concerns were not heeded.

Local truck drivers said they were being sidelined in favour of foreigners, and their pleas to the Transport Department have not been dealt with effectively.

The association has, in the past, repeatedly called for an efficient and effective system to deal with the anticipated surge of applications and administrative load that the Department of Home Affairs has encountered with the original decision to withdraw the ZEP.

ALSO READ: Home Affairs extends ZEP deadline again due to ‘significant developments’

“The association supports the reasoning behind the decision to withdraw the ZEP. However, the extension of the currently valid ZEPs due to administrative (or otherwise) hurdles or challenges experienced may be enough motivation for those frustrated South African citizens to take matters into their own hands,” warned RFA CEO Gavin Kelly.

Kelly has reiterated calls for the Department of Employment and Labour to step up its inspections with all employers regarding illegally employed foreign nationals by South African employers.

ALSO READ: Home affairs decision ‘makes you wonder what SA really owes Zimbabwe’

“We need to ensure that the Task Team (led by the Department of Transport) moves forward in completing the various issues raised by the All Truck Drivers and Allied South Africa (ATDF-ASA) concerning foreign nationals in the transport sector,” said Kelly.

Motsoaledi’s decision has been met with mixed reactions, with some calling for the minister to rethink his approach.

A Put South Africans First movement member, Thato Mahlangu, said government’s failure to implement solid laws was fuelling xenophobia and violence.

“South Africans desperately need the government to make a clear decision and take a clear stance on these issues.”

Migrant activist Sharon Ekambaram said the department has to be called to account.

“It is shocking how the minister appears to be playing with people’s lives; the lives of black African people. What is the state of the White Paper on International Migration released in 2017?” she asked.

Additional reporting by Reitumetse Makwea.

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