Zimbabweans welcome extension of residence

| Tariro Washinyira
Zimbabweans demanded asylum documents at the Maitland Home Affairs office in 2012. Photo Tariro Washinyira.

The Department of Home Affairs has granted three more years residence to more than 250 000 Zimbabweans who applied for dispensation permits in 2009.

The Zimbabwe Dispensation Programme (ZDP) has been changed to the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit of 2014 (ZSP).

ZSP permit-holders who wish to stay in South Africa after the expiry of the permit must return to Zimbabwe to apply for mainstream visas and permits under the Immigration Act. These applications will be considered within 12 months of the expiry of the ZSP permits, so from January 2017.

In a statement on 12 August, Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba announced the closure of the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project as of 31 December, 2014.

“All DZP permits which expire before 31 December 2014 is accordingly delayed until 31 December 2014. The expiry date of those DZP permits which expire after December 2014, is being brought forward to 31 December 2014. I announce the creation of the new Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit of 2014, or to use the acronym, the ZSP”.

DZP permit-holders who wish to remain in South Africa after the expiry of their permits, can reapply for the ZSP, subject to certain conditions.

They must have a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment, business or accredited study, and a clear criminal record.

The ZSP will allow permit-holders to live, work, conduct 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. New offices will be opened in Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga to process the new applications. Applications will begin online and there will be an administration fee.

The minister said: “The approaching expiry date has caused anxiety for many permit-holders, particularly those who are not ready to return to Zimbabwe, as they contemplate their next steps. The Department of Home Affairs has been considering this matter for some time. I recently met with my Zimbabwean counterpart, Minister Kembo Mohadi, to discuss matters of mutual concern, including the imminent expiry of the DZP”.

“While we note the ongoing political and economic recovery in Zimbabwe, consistently supported by the South African government, we are aware that it will take time for her to fully stabilize. South Africa recognizes itself as an integral part of the African continent and therefore understands its national interest as being intrinsically linked to Africa’s stability, unity, and prosperity. We are appreciative of the many contributions made by Zimbabweans in our society and economy”.

Zimbabwe Community in South Africa chairperson Ngqabutho Mabhena, who has been lobbying for the renewal of ZDP permits, told GroundUp: “We are excited by the three years granted to more than 250 000 Zimbabweans who benefited from the ZDP.

He said it was unfortunate that the door still seemed tobe closed for those who had no documents, but negotiations with the department would continue.

“The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa is working with other organisations such as COSATU and Workers for Immigrants Rights to raise awareness of the plight of all immigrants”.

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TOPICS:  Immigration Zimbabwe Permit

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