Announcement: Zimbabweans qualify for new Dispensation permits.
Announced this morning by the South African Cabinet a special permit for all Zimbabweans living and working is South Africa has been approved.
In a much anticipated move Zimbabweans in South Africa can go to bed to night assured that a new special permit has been announced that will mean that they can remain in the Republic and legally live and work in South Africa.
Speaking to the media and other role players this morning Minister of Home Affairs Maulsi Gigaba announced the approval of the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP) of 2014.
The Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit will allow Zimbabweans to conduct business, study and reside in South Africa under special conditions without applying for new visas.
Gigaba said that the objectives of the DZP were to:
• Regularize Zimbabweans residing in South Africa illegally
• Curb the deportation of Zimbabweans who were in SA illegally
• Reduce pressure on the asylum seeker and refugee regime, and
• Provide amnesty to Zimbabweans who obtained SA documents fraudulently
Of the original dispensation agreement Gigaba said, “This was a significant gesture of support and solidarity with our neighboring country of Zimbabwe in response to the large number of Zimbabweans residing illegally in South Africa due to political and economic instability there,” adding that, “Approximately 295 000 Zimbabweans applied for the permit.
“Just over 245 000 permits were issued, with the balance being denied due to lack of passports or non-fulfilment of other requirements.”
Problems surfaced as the expiration of these visas, on 31 December 2014 neared. Zimbabweans fearing for their survival and eminent job and housing losses were left anxious after the newest visa regulation, announced in May this year, made it clear that they would be faced with difficulties in renewing their current visas.
“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,” said Gigaba of his meeting with Mohadi in Pretoria last week.
He continued by saying that, “As you will know, the Department of Home Affairs is mandated to manage immigration effectively, to promote our country’s development, enhance its security, and fulfill its international obligations.
“Our management of immigration is also informed by our foreign policy, one feature of which is Pan-Africanism.
Gigaba assured of the Department’s commitment to managing South African immigration in such a way as to respect human rights while remaining effective and efficient.
“We are appreciative of the many contributions made by Zimbabweans in our society and economy.
“Zimbabweans have made notable contributions in our education and health sectors for example as teachers and health professionals, and in many other sectors.
“In general, we appreciate the contribution of the immigrants in our country in terms of enhancing our social, cultural and economic life,” said Gigaba of Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
Gigaba also mentioned that the country is aware of the fact that educated Zimbabweans are much needed to grow their own country’s economy. “But accept that for the time being, many DZP permit-holders would prefer to continue their stay in South Africa.
“It is in this context, that in recent weeks I have taken note of this anxiety and promised to outline a way forward, after consultation with Cabinet.
“The Department of Home Affairs developed a proposal, refined in recent months, which was accepted by Cabinet on 6 August 2014.
This Section 31(2) of the Immigration Act states that: “upon application, the Minister may under terms and conditions determined by him:
- grant a foreigner or a category of foreigners the rights of permanent residence for a specified or unspecified period when special circumstances exist which would justify such a decision. Provided that the Minister may:
• (i) exclude one or more identified foreigners from such categories,
• (ii) or with good cause, withdraw such rights from a foreigner or category of foreigners.”
The Act further empowers the Minister to: “for good cause, withdraw an exemption granted by him or her in terms of this section.
Accordingly, I announce today, the closure of the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project, as of 31 December, 2014.
Important to note though is that all DZP permits (without exception) will now expire on 31 December this year. This includes permits that would have expired after that date.
Gigaba continued that, “Furthermore, I hereby announce the creation of the new Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit of 2014, or to use the acronym, the ‘ZSP’.
“All relevant and available details are outlined in the media packs accompanying this announcement, but I will give an overview of the most important details.
“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.
The minister said that the conditions would include being in possession of a Zimbabwean passport, evidence of the applicant’s employment in South Africa. Those conducting business in the country must show proof of being registered with an officially recognized body and students are expected to furnish proof that a student is registered at an accredited tertiary institution and has 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.
The minister announced that applications for the ZSP will open on 01 October 2014, and close on 31 December 2014.
“ZSP permit-holders who wish to stay in South Africa after the expiry of the ZSP, must return to Zimbabwe to apply for mainstream visas and permits under the Immigration Act, subject to the relevant requirements.
“These applications will be considered within 12 months of the expiry of the ZSP permits, so from January 2017.
“We will now embark on an extensive stakeholder engagement process, to inform DZP permit-holders and other interested parties about the ZSP process.
“We will continue the productive engagement we enjoyed with stakeholder formations during the DZP process four years ago, but of course are open to work with new stakeholders which may have emerged since then,” said Gigaba.
Gigaba concluded his announcement by emphasizing that the ZSP is a temporary bridge to the near future when all Zimbabweans will re-enter the mainstream immigration process in South Africa.