By Mashudu Netsianda
SOUTH Africa will next year set up a visa facilitation centre in Harare targeting Zimbabweans who wish to apply for study and work permits.
Mayihlome Tshwete, the spokesperson for South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs, yesterday told The Chronicle that the move follows recommendations by that country’s inter-ministerial committee, which was established by President Jacob Zuma in August.
“Plans are underway to establish a visa facilitation centre in Zimbabwe within the next 12 months so that locals who intend to apply for South African study, work and business permits can utilise the facility without necessarily travelling to our country.
“The Department of Home Affairs is implementing the inter-ministerial committee recommendations under the Immigration Amendment Acts (2007 and 2011) and Immigration Regulations, 2014,” said Tshwete.
The other countries that have been identified for the same project include Botswana and the United Arab Emirates.
Tshwete said they were also considering granting a certain category of frequent travellers who include businesspeople and academics from Africa a multiple entry visitors’ visa in the next 12 months.
“We’re also in the next three months considering a long-term multiple entry visas for a period exceeding three months and up to three years for frequent travellers such as businesspeople and academics,” he said.
In August last year, South Africa introduced the Zimbabwe Special Project (ZSP) allowing Zimbabwean holders of the special permits to work, conduct business or study in South Africa for three years, until December 31, 2017.
Under ZSP Zimbabweans had to apply for the permits at 11 visa facilitation centres dotted in that country’s 10 provinces. The Home Affairs Department engaged VFS Global, as a partner, to receive the applications. VFS Global started receiving applications online on October 1, 2014.
By August this year, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said since the inception of the ZSP, 197,303 applications have been adjudicated and a total of 185,075 approved.
The special permits were introduced to allow Zimbabweans a three-year residency in South Africa. ZSP is a programme that replaced Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project (DZP) which ran from May to December 31, 2010. Only those who benefited under the DZP programme were eligible to apply for work and study permits under ZSP.
South Africa started accepting permit applications for the DZP permit holders on October 1, 2014. The Chronicle