Zimbabwean Dispensation Permits to be extended

2014-08-12 14:48

A big story that broke on Tuesday (12 August 2014) is that of the plight almost a million (some sources say more) Zimbabweans who are perilously awaiting news of whether they may remain legally in South Africa or slowly each be found and deported (using SA taxpayers money).

The following is a summary of Malusi Gigaba's briefing on the Zimbabwe Special Project and the Zimbabwean Dispensation Permits issue at a media briefing given today in Pretoria.

"The Department of Home Affairs confirmed today that the highly anticipated Zimbabwean Dispensation Permits will be able to be extended. This proposal was accepted by Cabinet on 6 August 2014. As such, the closure of the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project (DZP), will occur as of 31 December, 2014. As a result, it is important to note that the expiry date of all DZP permits which expire before 31 December 2014 is delayed until 31 December 2014. The expiry date of those DZP permits which expire after December 2014, is brought forward to 31 December 2014. As such all DZP permits, regardless of the date of expiry contained on the permit will expire on 31 December 2014.

The DZP permits will then be replaced by the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP).

To be able to apply for a ZSP permit the applicant MUST have a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment, business or accredited study and a clear criminal record. The ZSP will be issued in the categories of work, business and study in South Africa, for the duration of the permit, which is valid until 31 December 2017.

Applications will open on 1 October 2014 and close on 31 December 2014.

Applications will be managed by VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) and adjudicated by the Department of Home Affairs. An administrative fee will apply, which the Department of Home Affairs has yet to announce.

It is vitally important to note that ZSP permit-holders who wish to stay in South Africa after the expiry of the ZSP, MUST return to Zimbabwe to apply for mainstream visas and permits under the Immigration Act, subject to the relevant requirements. These applications will be considered within 12 months of the expiry of the ZSP permits being from January 2017."

The questions here that arise are numerous. Those Zimbabweans in South Africa have fled for good reason, but does South Africa want them in the country? This seems to depend on which South African you speak to. Farmers are very happy, in general, with their performance. Many of them are very skilled and South Africa is short of skilled people.

Trade unions, however, are not happy that these immigrants now have the opportunity to enter or remain in South Africa and take jobs that they feel belong to South African citizens. That said, even if the Zimbabweans were told to pack up and go home, many of them fear this more than being illegal in South Africa, which would result in a large amount of illegal immigrants - perhaps a far greater issue for our economy.

The jury is out on what South Africa's Home Affairs Department should have done, or if their move now is the right one all along.

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