Beitbridge Bureau — Zimbabweans holding special dispensation permits for living in South Africa must be allowed to travel freely in and out of South Africa next year and be given normal services so long as they have applied for an appropriate long-term permit, South Africa's Department of Home Affairs said yesterday.
South Africa has decided not to renew the 178 000 Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) which all expire at the end of this month, although next year has been set aside as a grace period to allow the Zimbabweans to apply for the ordinary permits.
In a statement yesterday, Home Affairs Director-General, Mr Livhuwani Tommy Makhode advised employers, schools, banks and other institutions to allow the affected ZEP holders to continue with normal services during the 12 months grace period so long as there is proof that the Zimbabwean has lodged a permit application at the Department of Home Affairs.
"All companies, employers, learning institutions and banks are to kindly note that the applicants who are in possession of a ZEP permit expiring on December 31, 2021, must be allowed to continue with their services, provided they submit proof of application for a mainstream visa in terms of the Immigration Act and regulations. Proof of application must be a VFS receipt," said Mr Makhode.
"All applicants with a ZEP must be allowed to travel freely in and out of South Africa until 31 December 2022, when the 12 months grace period ends, after which they will only be allowed to travel in and out of South Africa if in possession of a valid visa. The contents of this directive must be brought to the attention of all officials concerned.
He said during the 12 months grace period, ZEP holders must apply for mainstream visas that they qualify for and ensure that the applications conform with the provisions of South Africa's immigration laws.
Mr Makhode said those who would fail to comply or were not successful would have to leave South Africa or risk deportation.
The development comes a few days after some banks were already advising their Zimbabwean clients to present new permits at the beginning of January next year.