Zim government offers to help repatriate its citizens in SA

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Zimbabwe ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi.
Zimbabwe ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi.
Ntwaagae Seleka


The Embassy of Zimbabwe in South Africa has offered help to repatriate its citizens who are willing to return to Zimbabwe.

The announcement by the Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi on Thursday came as government was preparing for chaos ahead of the deadline for the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) expiration, which comes into effect at the end of June.

READ: Zimbabweans trying to leave South Africa turned back at Beitbridge border

The South African government announced in November 2021 that it would not renew the permits, which allowed Zimbabwean nationals to stay, study and work in South Africa. The decision could see 180 000 permit holders being classified undocumented and facing deportation.

Hamadziripi said:

Since the announcement of the decision by the government of South Africa to not renew the ZEP, the government of Zimbabwe has stated, on numerous occasions, its readiness to not only welcome but also facilitate those ZEP holders who wish to return to Zimbabwe.

The ambassador told journalists at the Pretoria-based embassy that the assistance would be in various ways, including but not limited to transportation and assistance with waiving some of the tax obligations to facilitate a smooth crossover into the country.

"To adequately prepare to do so, the embassy and the consulates of Zimbabwe will be conducting a mapping exercise to identify and register ZEP holders who wish to return home. The mapping exercise will be conducted in February and March across all provinces of South Africa. This exercise is composed of two parts, the first being online registration, while the second part involves physical visits by the multi-sectoral teams to designated areas across South Africa," he said.

READ: Scrapping Zim permit will cause humanitarian crisis, activists warn

Hamadziripi added the teams consisted of officials from the embassy, the consulates and several Zimbabwean government ministries.

 The ambassador said their programme was a voluntary process and that those who wished not to comply with the call to be assisted to return home should be reminded to obey the laws of South Africa.

The embassy takes this opportunity to remind Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa to be law-abiding citizens and respect the laws of the land.

Hamadziripi did not want to comment on whether the embassy was in talks with the South African counterpart in a bid to have the decision rescinded. He said as the government of Zimbabwe, they recognised the challenges the country faced, but respected the decision by the South African government as a sovereign state.

The Helen Suzman Foundation and the Zimbabwe Immigration Federation have approached the North Gauteng High Court against Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, seeking an order that would change the South African government's position. The case is set to be heard from April 11 to 14.

READ: Zimbabwean government unsettled by non-renewal of SA permits

The Allied Strikers Forum of SA and Operation Dudula have also applied to join the proceedings.

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