A statement by a high ranking official of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) that Zimbabweans living in South Africa are causing a strain on economy is generating intense criticism. 

Thandi Modise, ANC deputy secretary-general said Zimbabweans in South Africa are placing an enormous strain on healthcare, education and housing resources. 

But Zimbabweans in South Africa say they fear that Modise's statement could trigger xenophobic attacks against them. 

More than three million Zimbabweans have crossed into neighboring South Africa for better living conditions following their country's economic meltdown. 

George Mkwananzi, a Zimbabweans political analyst said that Modise's statement sets a dangerous precedent.

"I think it was ill-timed coming as it does in the wake of xenophobic attacks that were done last year on foreigners mainly from Zimbabwe? when those xenophobic attacks were done, the ordinary people did not have such an acknowledgment coming from a senior government official. So it was their perception," Mkwananzi said.

He said Modise's statement could enable more attacks on Zimbabweans.

"Now that there has been such an admission on the part of a high ranking government official, then it gives credence to such an impression. And there might be an activated and motivated? to engage in hate attacks and so on," he said.

Mkwananzi said Zimbabweans welcome moves to resuscitate the economy.

"Obviously every effort that is directed at activating as well as fast tracking the situation in Zimbabwe so that it returns to normality would be welcomed," Mkwananzi said.

He said there are no reasons to believe that Harare will condemn Modise's pronouncement.

"For them (ZANU-PF) it doesn't bother them because most of the people that left the country are possibly those that would vote against them should there be an electoral process so for them they are a good riddance?now that they are in foreign lands and are perhaps sending back some foreign currency to them is an icing on the cake," he said.

Meanwhile, a delegation of United States lawmakers has urged Harare to ensure success of the coalition government. The lawmakers ended their visit to Zimbabwe Thursday after holding discussions with long-time embattled President Robert Mugabe as well as other government officials.