Confusion over Zimbabwe Special Dispensation Permit

| Tariro Washinyira
Zimbabweans protest for asylum papers at Maitland Home Affairs Office in 2012. Photo by Tariro Washinyira.

Some holders of Zimbabwe Dispensation Permits that expire in 2015 do not understand that all permits are expiring on 31 December 2014, and that they too need to make an online application by 1 October 2014 for the new Zimbabwe Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP).

On the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA) Facebook page, Oliver Kwaramba wrote: ‘not all of those 4yrs permits are expiring this year like mine it will only expire in MAY 2015. so mst i apply only until DECEMBER’.

Christine Mlalazi wrote: ‘But really it is unfair to us because the minister has taken the whole year from us. Mine was suposed to expire on December next year. That is a whole year’.

Tamuka Kacheche of Parow told GroundUp that he is not worried about the 31 December deadline because his permit is only expiring next year in December. He is worried that he might not qualify under ZSP application conditions.

Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba in his remarks on the announcement of the ZSP on 12 August, said the permits that have expired are now extended to expire on 31 December. Permits that were meant to expire beyond 31 December 2014 have been brought forward to expire on 31 December 2014.

However Ngqabutho Mabhena, chairperson of ZCSA, told GroundUp that Zimbabweans should not worry about the ZSP application conditions because during the ZCSA engagement with the government, it was said that applicants should only prove that for the past four years they were issued with the expiring ZDP permit, they have been running a business, studying or employed and have no criminal record.

“From our engagement we do not believe people will be turned away if they meet the above conditions,” he said.

But Mabhena said there are other concerns with the ZSP process and the organisation intended to negotiate with Home Affairs on behalf of the affected.

“Of great concern is the 6,000 who returned their South African IDs during the ZDP amnesty.”

Of great concern is the 6,000 who returned their South African IDs during the ZDP amnesty.

Mabhena said this issue is affecting business owners because they registered their business using IDs and starting next year they will be on three-year permits. Financial institutions might not be willing to give loans to foreigners, or to those who applied with IDs but now come back as foreigners. This affects working people who had been contributing to UIF and pension funds.

Mabhena said, “We are establishing a database which will categorise how many of the people who gave up their IDs are running businesses; who are general workers and skilled workers. The database will help us understand why some of them who fled political violence before 2006 did not apply for asylum and opted for IDs. Based on this information, we will try to persuade government to give them permanent residence. This morning [21 August], I was at ANC offices and I was advised to draft a proposal document stating why we need the 6,000 people who gave away their IDs to be issued permanent residence status”.

At the next meeting, ZCSA will check with Home Affairs if it cannot make an exception for babies born in South Africa and for immediate family minors who are not currently holders of the ZDP permits to be given permits if they want to join a family member who has received the ZSP.

Home Affairs informed ZCSA that people who applied in 2010 for permits and did not get them are still pending. They will qualify for ZSP.

People who never received their permits should contact ZCSA who will assist by checking with Home Affairs if their names appear on Home Affairs database.

Those with frozen bank accounts as a result of expired permits need to visit their bank branches and explain to their bank branches that the Minister of Home Affairs has granted an extension of all expired permits to expire on the 31 December 2014. If they face challenges in activating their accounts they should seek ZCSA assistance.

The organisation is also in the process of checking with the Ministry of Home Affairs if they have communicated the extension of all expired ZDP permits to all ports of entry to ensure that Zimbabweans are free to travel.

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