SA extends permits for 250,000 Zimbabweans until 2017
ZIMBABWEANS working in South Africa had received a reprieve after the South African government declared a brand new three-year work permit dispensation.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said the new Zimbabwe Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP) would allow permit holders to reside, work, conduct business and study in South Africa until December 31, 2017.
He said the ZSP was a temporary bridge which may finally allow the mainstream immigration procedure to be re-entered by all Zimbabweans in South Africa.
He said applications under the brand-new dispensation would open on October 1, 2014, and shut on 31 December.
Zimbabweans in South Africa have been facing an uncertain future following the government there announced that it wouldn’t automatically renew permits given under the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP) in 2009. Permits given under that facility expire in December, and Zimbabweans were supposed to return home to apply for work permits that are new.
The stress due to expiry of the permits found Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi going to meet his South African counterpart to talk about the way forward.
During the DZP, a total of 295,000 Zimbabweans applied for the permits, and over 245. 000 permits were issued, while the balances were rejected due to lack of passports or non-fulfillment of other demands.
Gigaba said the South African cabinet approved the brand-new permit on August 6 following his engagement with Minister Mohadi.
Zimbabweans in SA is now able to apply for special permits
Zimbabweans living in South Africa can soon begin applying for an extension of their Zimbabwean Special Permits. The specific permits that are legal to remain, work, analyze and conduct in the country.
The particular permits were initially issued in 2009, and certainly will expire in December 2014. Qualifying Zimbabweans can apply for a three-year extension from the 1st of October.
Only Zimbabwean immigrants who are a part of the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project can apply for the extension of their special permits. The Department of Home Affairs, the South African Police Services, and the Home Affairs Immigration Unit say they’re prepared for the application procedure.
“Both the VFS in addition to the section are ready for the commencement of applications online as of the 1st of October. And the sections as interviews are conducted as well as the files submitted to us. Our staff will soon be prepared to begin the method of adjudication. I would like to highlight the importance of ensuring that all the files are supplied in order not to create any delays,” says Gigaba.
Gigaba warned that Zimbabweans, who are in the nation illegally will not be considered.
An organization known as the Zimbabwean Community in South Africa (ZCSA) welcomed the statement. ZCSA secretary Khumbulani Moyo says the process is likely to make it easier for the government to have the applicable files.
“What we have consistently said since 2010 as the portion of the stakeholders with the minister is that whoever wants to be a resident or work in South Africa has to be cleared regarding criminal records, both in Zimbabwe and South Africa. With the new people currently staying, sleeping in police stations trying to get police clearance, we’ve raised the problem with Director General McKay. However, after getting the clarity from him, I think, which will come to a finish because the answer was found between the parties.”
Gigaba warned that Zimbabweans, who are in the country illegally won’t be contemplated for specific permits. Should they be captured, he says, they’ll be deported.
“Any other undocumented Zimbabwean in South Africa will continue to be treated as an undocumented foreign national and will be subject to the provisions of the Immigrations Act which demands that if the parties ever come into contact with such a person they’re going to be immediately deported.”
Gigaba added that people who return to South Africa after they have been deported won’t be afforded the 90-day window period.
He says they’ll be deported back eventually.
Meanwhile, Holders of British diplomatic and official passports must make an application for visas before traveling to South Africa. “As from the 1st of September, the department started implementing the visa conditions for British diplomatic and passport holders. This was reciprocal action on our part. Common passport holders, for example, tourists will stay unaffected by this new requirement. The British government, in 2010, declared visa requirements for all South Africans average, officials, and diplomatic,” says Gigaba.
Gigaba adds that South Africa has attempted in vain to get England’s officials to at least exempt officials when they visited the nation.
Africa Unveils Amnesty Extension Plan for Zimbabweans
In 2010. South Africa granted four-year residence permits to almost a quarter-million Zimbabweans, who entered the state illegally.
Many had fled the political and economic turmoil in their homeland, but lived abroad in anxiety of the day their permits would expire, compelling them to return.
Nevertheless, a recent announcement by the South African government on Tuesday has brought some relief.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has unveiled a new three-year Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP), which will grant applicants a three-year amnesty extension starting January 1, 2015.
“Permit holders who wish to remain in South Africa after the expiry of their permits can reapply,” he said. “The ZSP will allow permit-holders to live, work, run company and study in South Africa until 31 December 2017.”
However, the offer has a condition. Only holders of the Dispensation of the Zimbabweans Project (DZP) permit, which were issued in 2010, may apply for the new ZSP extension. Moreover, applicants will be asked to give a legal passport, evidence of study, employment or company ownership, and have a clean criminal record.
According to Home Affairs officials, applicants will be given three-month window to submit their applications, beginning on October 1, via just opened visa centres throughout the country.
Gigaba added that the ZSP was going to be the last particular permits granted to the Zimbabweans.
“ZSP permit holders who want to stay in South Africa after the expiry of their ZSP must return to Zimbabwe to apply for mainstream visas and permits under the Immigration Act,” he said. “This means we will not be announcing in 2017 any new specific permit.”
The news of the brand new special permits has brought delight to the whole Zimbabwean community in South Africa.
Solomon Chikowero, chairman of a Zimbabwean Diaspora group, says Zimbabweans could not have gotten a better deal than this one.
“At least, south Africa has a breathing space for the next three years to place their papers in place,” he said. “There is, in addition, a leeway to go [away] from the ZSP — because it is a unique permit — to the right permit, which can let you apply either for certification or permanent residency afterward.”
An estimated 1.5 million Zimbabweans are believed to be living in South Africa as a result of economic and political turmoil in their birthplace in the previous two decades.