Zimbabwe has accepted the decision by the South African government to discontinue the issuing of special permits to Zimbabweans living in the neighbouring country.
However, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi said they will engage their counterparts for clarity on how they will implement the process.
On Thursday, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele told a post Cabinet media briefing that they will not extend special permits to Zimbabweans which are due to expire at the end of this year.
He said the beneficiaries of the previous scheme have been granted a 12-month grace period to regularise their stay or face deportation.
Hamadziripi said permission for any national to stay in every country is based on the laws of that country, hence government accepts South Africa’s decision. He said:
What we will do is to engage the SA government for purposes of understanding the implementation so that there is little disruption to the nationals and so that we share the necessary information.
As you may be aware the Zim exemption permit beneficiaries were in three categories. The professionals, some are self-employed or who have invested here and are tuning enterprises and some students were benefitting from the ZEP.
The decision that has been taken now invited them to do what has always been the concept and intention behind ZEP which was these individuals who were under the special dispensation were going to move to the normal immigration categories in this country.
This decision normalises the stay for citizens so we encourage them to follow the procedures that will be laid out to apply for permits and visas that are relevant to their category and the process will follow its course and decisions will be taken by the South African government. We encourage our nationals to follow the law.
An estimated 180 000 Zimbabweans are beneficiaries of the special exemption permits, called the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs).
The permits were first issued in 2010 under the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP).
The programme was renewed in 2014 as the Zimbabwe Special Dispensation Permits (ZSPs) before they were introduced as ZEPs in 2017.
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