The Government has been facilitating visa applications for Zimbabweans in South Africa who were affected by the cancellation of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) in December.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson Mr Livit Mugejo said Zimbabwe recognises and respects the sovereign decision that was taken by South Africa regarding the special dispensation permits.
Many Zimbabweans have taken heed of the new policy change and have been making the required visa applications.
Responding to questions by The Herald, Mugejo said Zimbabwe engaged South Africa to find ways to minimise the disruption of the lives of those affected by the cancellation of the ZEPs.
He added that the two countries met in May 2022 in Pretoria where it was agreed that Zimbabweans need to regularise their stay in order to continue living and working legally in South Africa. He added:
The Government of Zimbabwe has been facilitating these visa applications by availing mobile registration exercises in various provinces in South Africa to issue civil documents to enable our nationals to regularise their stay.
Let me reiterate that leave to remain in South Africa is based on the sovereign laws of South Africa. Zimbabwe recognises and respects the sovereign decision that was taken by South Africa regarding the special dispensation permits.
The Zimbabwe Government will continue to encourage its nationals in South Africa to embrace the latest policy change and comply with it. Government is working on mechanisms to assist our nationals who wish to return home after the December deadline and these will be announced in due course.
Nearly 200 000 Zimbabweans face deportation upon the expiry of their ZEPs on December 31 if they do not apply for other eligible permits announced by the South African Department of Home Affairs.
The special permits were initially meant to have expired on December 31, 2021, but the South African Government extended their life span by a further 12 months and advised that holders of such permits must utilise the grace period to apply for new visas.
Four different permits were announced:
c). spousal and
d). work permit visas.
There has, however, been an outcry that the conditions set for one to get the permits, especially the work visa one, were very stringent and beyond most Zimbabweans who are mainly doing non-specialised skills jobs.
Student Visa Applicants Need to provide Proof of:
i). being admitted at a registered learning institution in terms of section 1 of the South African Schools Act, 1996 as well as a college established in terms of the Further Education and Training Colleges Act, 2006.
ii). medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.
Work Visa Applicants must prove:
1). they are filling a critical skill post and that their employer cannot find an equally qualified South African for the job. Most critical jobs are in sciences whose qualifications make it almost impossible for the generality of Zimbabweans working in South Africa.
The ZEP cancellation and requirement to apply for a new visa align with SA’s review of all visas issued as far back as 2004, but Zimbabweans are the only ones who have to reapply for a visa at the moment.