PRETORIA – South African government Home Affairs has opened the process of special dispensation for Zimbabwean nationals.
The new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) will allow Zimbabwean Nationals who do not meet the criteria to be in the country through mainstream applications an opportunity to be in the country. The announcement comes as the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) which was started in 2014 comes to an end.
In the previous dispensation, a total of 197-thousand special permits were issued. The Department will start accepting new applications on the 15th of this month until the 30th of November. It is not known how many undocumented Zimbabwean nationals are in the country but the number is estimated to be in the millions.
The permits will be issued for a period of four years and will not be renewable.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Hlengiwe Mkhize says they are aware about the challenges of South Africans amid the influx of foreign nationals in the country.
“We’re re fully conscious of the concerns of South Africans about the number of foreign nationals in the country, but we do believe our legislative framework is tight enough to ensure that we can only facilitate entry in a secure and legal manner.”
The dispensation will cover those who are employed, running a business or studying in the country. It will not be renewable, but will however allow those with previous permits to travel using their expired permits until their new permits are issued.
Mkhize says there’s a project underway at the ports of entry to lessen the influx of Zimbabweans into the country.
“We should look at assisting in setting up economic initiatives on both sides. That’s also something which gradually might lessen the need for people to want to enterprise on the other side of the border. That is on the other side of South Africa.”
“Our inspectors are forever identifying people and they’re exporting them. Our numbers are very high. Maybe we must have a discussion around deportation so that people will realise how much work is being done on a daily basis.”
Mkhize has meanwhile encouraged South Africans to be more receptive to foreign nationals as some come with critical skills and also boost the economy. – SABC