THE South African cabinet on Thursday agreed to the re-application process for Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSP) bringing relief to thousands of permit holders whose future in the neighbouring country had become uncertain.
Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, who announced the decision at a briefing in Pretoria, said the reapplication will be done under “certain conditions”.
“The initial special dispensation for Zimbabweans was approved in April 2009 to document Zimbabwean nationals who were in South Africa illegally. Their permits expire on December 31, 2017. The Minister of Home Affairs Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize will hold separate briefing to explain the conditions and the process to be followed once re-application re-opens,” the African News Agency quoted Dlodlo as saying.
The Special permits were set to expire on December 31 this year after the then Home affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, argued it would not be feasible to grant permanent residence to all the permit holders at one go.
Gigaba had said the current permits would not be renewed once they had expired, causing anxiety among Zimbabweans, some of whom have been in that country for more than 15 years.
Gigaba had told a briefing in February this year that Zimbabweans would have to apply for other forms of documentation for them to be allowed to continue staying in South Africa such as work permits and visas.
Work Permits and Visas, however, have proved extremely difficult to obtain for migrants, especially non-professionals, owing to the strict conditions required for them to be granted.
It is estimated that more than three million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa after they fled their home country due to political and economic challenges, with the majority of them living and working in that country illegally.