Zimbabwean students in neighbouring South Africa have suffered a huge setback after Pretoria cancelled a waiver allowing foreign graduates to apply for permanent residence permits.
In 2016, South Africa granted foreign students studying in areas of critical skills the right to apply for permanent residence before attaining five years post-qualification experience, or without submitting testimonials from employers.
But South Africa’s Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi through Immigration Directive No 2 of 2022 withdrew the blanket waiver.
In the directive issued on 31 January this year, Motsoaledi said students who wished to apply for permanent residence permits, had to comply with the country’s immigration laws. He said:
By virtue of the power vested in me by section 31(2) of the Immigration Act, 2002, Act No 13 of 2002, I hereby withdraw the blanket waiver which was granted on April 21, 2016, which waiver allowed foreign graduates at South African tertiary institution that studied towards degrees in the area of critical skills, to apply for a permanent residence permit without the need of first acquiring five years post-qualification experience or the need to submit testimonials from employees.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi told NewsDay on Thursday that he would consult staff to assess the impact of the directive. He said:
I have just seen the minister’s directive and it is, obviously, going to affect a lot of Zimbabweans based in South Africa.
However, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet with my staff to assess the impact of the said directive.
We will be convening a meeting with my colleagues so that we come up with an informed opinion on the latest development.
South Africa discontinued the Zimbabwean Special Permits (ZEPs) that expired in December last year, with about 180 000 Zimbabweans affected by the move.