ZIMBABWEANS living in South Africa who received special permits through the 2009 Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project have until December 31 to apply for a new special permit in order to continue their stay in the country until 2017, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.
The special five-year dispensation allowed about 245,000 Zimbabweans Zimbabweans to extend their stay in South Africa.
Mr Gigaba told reporters on Tuesday morning that the special permits given to Zimbabwean nationals would begin expiring in December and the department had taken the decision to roundly end the validity of all of these permits on December 31.
The termination of these special permits — given to those who could not meet requirements for a desired visa — makes way for the introduction of the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit which will be valid until 2017.
“As of January 1 2015 no one will still be holding the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project permit,” Mr Gigaba said.
Mr Gigaba said applications to obtain a Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit would open on October 1 and close on December 31. Only those who initially entered the process which began in 2009 would be able to apply. Those who were awarded the new permits may continue their stay in South Africa but were required to go to Zimbabwe and apply for a relevant visa after the 2017 expiration.
Mr Gigaba said there were conditions to the application of the new permit.
“These conditions include, but are not limited to, a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment, business or study and a clear criminal record (approved by the South African Police Service),” Mr Gigaba said.
Mr Gigaba said the process would be expeditious, because all eligible persons were already on the home affairs database and the process would be done through an electronic system managed by VFS Global.
People Against Suffering and Oppression spokesman Braam Hanekom welcomed the announcement as the new regime extends the stay of Zimbabweans in South Africa while protecting working migrants from exploitation in the South African labour market.
THE South African Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new permits special dispensation process for Zimbabweans, ending months of uncertainty caused by the country’s recently introduced immigration rules.
South Africa’s Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba has been tasked with announcing details of the new arrangement.
The announcement would come as a great relief for more than 250 000 Zimbabweans issued with special permits in 2009 to legalise their stay in South Africa.
However, some permits have expired and most are due to expire by the end of the year and this had fuelled anxiety resulting in some losing around R13 000 to bogus permit facilitators.
The new development was revealed in a statement issued by the South African acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams yesterday.
“Cabinet approved the new Zimbabwean dispensation process. The Minister of Home Affairs will conduct a separate media briefing to announce details of this process,” Williams said briefly.
Last week, Gigaba held talks with his Zimbabwe counterpart Kembo Mohadi in Pretoria to seek common ground on the permits dispensation timeframe.
Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa Ngqabutho Mabhena welcomed the move.
“We are delighted by this move and are waiting the details from Gigaba.”
South Africa recently unveiled a string of new stringent immigration regulations that would see Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals who overstay being banned from entering South Africa as it tightens immigration regulations.