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GOVERNMENT should not take the South African route in dealing with illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, because expelling Zimbabweans may lead to soured relationship between the two countries, Chief Chundu of Zimbabwe has said.

Chief Chundu said instead, Zambia and Zimbabwe should immediately start talking to find a solution that will ensure Zimbabweans in this country conduct their business in line with the country’s laws. 

The chief’s remarks come in the wake of comments from Lusaka Mayor ChilandoChitangala who declared war on more than 3, 000 foreigners, mostly Zimbabwean who are illegally trading in the Lusaka central business district, warning that the council working with the Immigration Department will soon remove the foreigners from the city to restore sanity. 

Nearly 200, 000 Zimbabweans are already on the verge of being expelled from South Africa where their stay on special exemption permits is on the line, with just under 12 months left to regularise their stay or face deportation.

But Chief Chundu said it was wrong for the mayor to publicly single out Zimbabweans as the ones conducting business illegally when she is aware that such sentiments can lead to xenophobic attacks.

“Such careless talk by the mayor of Lusaka has potential to incite Zambians against their Zimbabwean brothers and sisters who are trying to survive,” he said, adding that the mayor should have handled the issue in a diplomatic way.

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