Zimbabweans anxiously await the outcome of government talks over special dispensation visas.
The media in Zimbabwe is this week reporting that more than a quarter of a million of their country kinsmen who are registered to live and work in the republic and are waiting to hear their fate amidst speculations that their special dispensation visa may not be renewed.
South African minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and Zimbabwean minister of Home Affairs Kembo Mohadi met in Pretoria this week, to discuss various problems faced by Zimbabwean passport holders in South Africa. This included the latest allegations that South African banks were now freezing accounts held by Zimbabweans.
Meetings between the two countries was held in the hopes of speeding up talks and decisions of what would happen to those Zimbabweans, who four years ago flocked to South Africa to escape the political and economic crisis, and are now in possession of visas that are about to expire. These Zimbabwean nationals were issued with special visas in 2010 which gave then the right to live and work in the republic for the past four years.
According to the newest South African immigration legislation which came into effect at the end of May 2014 all foreigners are supposed to return home and reapply for visas from there – in this case Zimbabwe.
But those concerned with the situation, and are leading the campaign to protect the South African jobs and homes of Zimbabwean nationals, are saying that returning more than two hundred and fifty thousand Zimbabwean nationals to their home land would not be feasible.
“Some of the concerns raised are that some permits have already expired and this makes it difficult for people to travel to Zimbabwe on family business and some banks have already frozen accounts following the expiry of permits” said ZCSA head of communications Sicelo Sibanda.
“The leadership of ZCSA [met] with Mohadi. This meeting comes as a result of concerns raised by our members since our meeting in Hillbrow on Saturday,” added Sibanda.
“Sending 250 000 [Zimbabweans] back just to extend their permits doesn’t make sense,” said Bernard Toyambi, the paralegal officer of the non-governmental organisation the People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty.
“How will they keep their jobs? How long does the process take?”
Zimbabweans in South Africa will be anxiously awaiting the outcome of yesterday’s meeting, as will the hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean families who depend heavily at home.