The government has assured Zimbabweans that will be repatriated from South Africa in the coming months that they are free to return home and will be welcomed with open arms.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans are set to return home or be deported by South Africa after 30 June 2023 when their Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) visas expire.
In 2021, the South African government announced that it will be renewing critical skills visas and permits only, and not ZEPs.
In an interview with the Sunday News, Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Deputy Minister, Ruth Maboyi-Ncube, said:
They (Zimbabweans) must not be scared as they are returning home. We are ready to welcome them. We have already started making preparations to ensure their smooth return.
We will ensure that [those of school going age] will get into our schools as long as they can produce proof of schooling in South Africa. We will then blend them with other learners in our schools.
We are yet to meet with the relevant Ministry and discuss the finer details regarding schooling but we see no challenges.
Maboyi-Ncube said the government will ensure that returnees will get identity documentation on their return. She said:
Our processes have not changed. When they come, they must go straight to the registry department and get national Identity Documents and passports.
For those who do not have birth certificates, we encourage them to seek birth records from South Africa where they will have been born so that we ensure they get documents here.
Regional Immigration Officer responsible for the Southern Region Joshua Chibundu said:
We have documented Zimbabweans who have valid passports, then there are others who have no passports or other supporting documents.
So, what we have been doing for those who voluntarily return or self-repatriate is to establish if they are Zimbabwean or not and we do that via interviews.
If we are satisfied that indeed they are Zimbabwean we allow them back into Zimbabwe. This is what is going to happen for the returnees we are expecting too.
We have no business denying them entry if they do not have any documentation as we will now be rendering them stateless if we refuse them entry back into the country.
Reports indicate that out of about 170 000 ZEP holders, less than 10 000 have applied for alternative visas to regularise their stay in South Africa after the 30th of June 2023 deadline. | Sunday News