The Department of Home Affairs will not renew the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP). It is due to expire in 2017.
This was communicated to GroundUp after we sought clarification from Home Affairs over a WhatsApp message that has been circulating among Zimbabweans living in South Africa. The message states that the ZSP will be renewed next year.
In an email to GroundUp, Home Affairs Media Liaison Officer Thabo Mokgola said, “Only the Minister of Home Affairs can make a determination in relation to the extension of any special dispensation. The Minister has made it clear that there would not be an extension of the ZSP.”
The statement circulating on Whatsapp read:
“The South African Department of Home Affairs says we should not be worried on what will happen beyond 31st December 2017. Last night, we had a discussion on the sidelines of the Migrants Mkhaya Awards and we were assured by officials to remain calm and not panic. The Department is planning a new arrangement that will see holders of the ZSP remaining legal in South Africa beyond 2017.
You will know that the Green Paper on International Migration is proposing a SADC Work Visa; the department says they are not looking at the proposed SADC Work Visa as an alternative. The reason is that, the SADC Work Visa (if approved) will only come into effect sometime in 2018 when all ZSP will have expired. The Department of Home Affairs is to make an announcement early next year on what will happen to ZSP holders.
What is becoming clear though is that, the government will not ask the over 198,000 ZSP [holders] to go back to Zimbabwe.
I have been told to ask you to enjoy your holidays and not worry about 2017 and avoid doing something illegal trying to change to an alternative permit. I have met some ZSP holders who are now trying to use illegal routes in extending their permits or in applying for alternative permits. Let us not use agents but wait for the announcement by the Department of Home Affairs.”
This is not the first time Home Affairs is quoted saying it will renew the ZSP when it expires in 2017. In March, Zimbabwe state media reported that Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs Minister, Dr Ignatius Chombo, met his South African counterpart, Malusi Gigaba, in Tshwane to discuss several issues pertaining to the documentation of Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
But when GroundUp contacted Home Affairs about the article in March, the department refused to comment. This time however, on the WhatsApp message, Home Affairs was unequivocal that the ZSP will not be renewed.
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