By Thupeyo Muleya
Zimbabweans staying in South Africa have commended the host government for introducing a new four-year permit known as the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) for those wishing to study or work in that country.
The ZEP is valid between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2021, and replaces the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) whose lifespan expires on December 31 this year.
According to South Africa’s Home Affairs Department, the ZEP facility is only available to 197 941 holders of the ZSP permit.
In separate interviews yesterday, Zimbabweans said the new development brought about an end to months of speculation on reports that the country was introducing tough measures for immigrants.
“This is a relief to the thousands of Zimbabweans who have endured several months of speculation on their status at the expiry of the ZSP,” said Mr Giyani Dube a representative of Zimbabweans staying in South Africa.
“We commend South Africa for relaxing the application processes as applicants don’t have to go back home to apply for the ZEP permits.
“I want to urge fellow Zimbabweans to take advantage of the application window which is between 15 September and 30 November. We are working together as teams in making the applications online and also sharing vital information on the application process through several media platforms.”
Mr Dube said although they welcomed the ZEP permits, they were worried about the few others who will lose out since their ZSP applications were still pending at the home affairs offices.
He said on the ZSP applications, details were a vital component for one to apply for the new permits.
“We are also happy that the online application system is efficient though there are a few technical glitches due to congestion.
“Naturally under such circumstances everyone would want to be the first to apply before the window closes,” he said.
The Coordinator for ZSP permit holders, Mr Edward Muchatuta said they were engaging the department of home affairs and Zimbabwean Consulate in that country over the issue of pending ZSP permits.
Said Mr Muchatuta; “We are worried with the situation where some of our members are yet to get feedback on the status of their ZSP permits.
“We are still compiling the numbers of those members who are likely to be affected by this technicality. At the moment we have come together as interested parties and are helping each other in lodging the applications online and making appointment with the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS).”
“This is a positive development considering that there has been a lot of discord over the issue especially with the changing of ministers from Mr Malusi Gigaba to Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize.”
Mr Muchatuta also called on Zimbabweans to comply with the new immigration regulations and make sure that they get the requisite documents needed for processing the permits.
The applicants are required to submit; a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment (in the case of an application for work rights), evidence of business (in case of an application for business rights), and evidence of admission letter from a recognised institution (in case of an application for study rights.)
In addition to the above, they must pay an administration fee of R1 090.
Home Affairs spokesperson, Mr Thabo Mokgola said the processing of ZSP permits was concluded in 2014.
“The process was concluded in 2014 and those who failed to qualify at that time were given the reasons and a window period to make representations.
“Honestly we can’t take three years to process a permit. This is not true at all,” he said. The Chronicle