Cape Town – South African Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has extended the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) for a further six months.
The permits were due to expire at the end of the year.
In a statement on Friday, Home Affairs said it had extended the permits to June 30 next year.
The extension meant that no permit holders may be arrested, detained, or deported.
Home affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza said the minister acted on the recommendation of the advisory committee led by Dr Cassius Lubusi.
“The Minister of Home Affairs received a progress report from Dr Lubisi. The report states that the DAC has met on several occasions in order to execute its mandate, and their last meeting was held for the whole day on the 1st of September 2022.
“The DAC recommended to the Minister that in view of the progress thus far, it will be prudent for the Minister to consider extending the period within which the affected Zimbabwean nationals will have an opportunity to apply for visas and / or waivers for a further six months.
“The Minister has carefully considered the request and decided to extend the period by a further six months, that is, 31 December 2022 to 30 June 2023,” Qoza said.
Qoza said the minister considered the department had received very few applications by Zimbabwean nationals for ordinary visas so far.
According to News24, last month the department made submissions in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that only 6 000 out of the 178 000 Zimbabwean permit holders had made representations about why the department should not terminate their permits.
“The Minister is committed to affording the affected Zimbabwean nationals another opportunity to apply for one or other visas and / or waivers provided for in the Immigration Act.
“The Directive containing the decision of the Minister will be communicated through diplomatic channels to the Zimbabwean Ambassador in South Africa,” said Qoza.
Home Affairs said there would be no further extension granted by the Minister, and therefore Zimbabweans were urged to make use of the six months window of opportunity and not wait for the last moment to lodge their applications.
Zimbabweans are found across South Africa, working particularly in the hospitality, retail and service sectors.
South Africa, the continent’s most industrialised economy, is a magnet for economic migrants searching for better job prospects in the region.
But President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government is under pressure to create job opportunities for its citizens as ballooning unemployment rates exceed 34%.
The country has in recent years been tightening its visa regulations and closing loopholes.
Picture: Getty Images
Compiled by Betha Madhomu