An estimated 6 000 Zimbabweans have come back home since the start of Covid-19, resulting in the Government spending millions of dollars to cater for those in mandatory quarantine centres.
All returning citizens are held in a quarantine centre for eight days before being allowed, should they test negative on two tests, to complete their mandatory quarantine at home until they have completed 21 days and passed a final test.
The Government, through the Department of Social Welfare, is taking care of the returnees at the designated centres, where they are enjoying four meals per day at the State’s expense.
Returnees are mainly coming from the Sadc region — South Africa and Botswana. Most of them need help on their return since they were unable to continue earning a living during the lockdown where they were staying before their return.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke said South Africa and Botswana accounted for the majority of the 5 533 returnees by Tuesday.
There were 2752 returnees from South Africa, 2 550 from Botswana, 113 from Namibia, 102 from Zambia, 95 from Britain and 78 from Mozambique, where most were employed by shipping companies.
“We expect the figure to continue increasing which means Government will pour in more resources. I cannot give the exact figures of total funding expended by Government but it now runs into millions of dollars and will continue to go up,” said Deputy Minister Matuke.
Some of the returnees are volunteers who are fleeing push factors such as company closures while others do not have legal documentation to stay in those countries, and are rounded-up before being deported.