16 November 2018

South Africa: Relief As Govt Okays 180,000 Permits For Zimbabweans

Photo: The Financial Gazette
Travellers at Beitbridge Border Post (file photo).

Cape Town — The adjudication and printing of 178,172 applications for the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) spokesman Thabo Makgola is reported as saying, urging 1,932 applicants who had expired passports to contact the Zimbabwean consulate, as their application could not be processed.

This announcement comes after months of uncertainty and despondency among applicants. The lack of clarity after the exercise, which was initially anticipated to be concluded in a matter of weeks, dragged on for more than a year.

Of the 180,000 applications, 108,485 permits were processed and had been collected. Meanwhile, 39,089 were in the process of being collected or sent to the various collection offices, Makgola toldTimes Live.

The opening of the ZEP was announced on September 8, 2017 following the expiry of the Zimbabwean Special Permit - bringing relief to thousands of permit holders whose future in the neighbouring country had become uncertain - but the euphoria that greeted the announcement quickly turned into despair for the tens of thousands of the Zimbabwean migrants who were yet to receive their documents, almost a year after the process began. There had been a lack of clarity, with the atmosphere among applicants becoming one of hopelessness and desperation, especially as some of them were losing their jobs, while others were having their bank accounts frozen.

In September 2018, a GroundUp report alleged that some Zimbabwean teachers in the Western Cape had gone unpaid for as long as nine months because Home Affairs is dragging its feet in verifying their permits.

The permit is issued for a maximum period of four years, effective from January 1, 2018, and expiring on December 31, 2021, notwithstanding the date of application.

South Africa first issued special permits for Zimbabweans in 2010 under the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP), which saw about 245 000 nationals secure the permits.

The Zimbabwean government says Zimbabwe's Diaspora population has surpassed three million but efforts continue to establish the exact figure as part of efforts to maximise remittances.

Zimbabweans have fled their home country due to political and economic challenges, with the majority of them living in neghbouring countries illegally.

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