By Nqobile Tshili
The South African government has so far granted more than 108 000 permits to Zimbabweans following the expiry of the October 31 deadline to apply for the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) that are valid up to 2021.
South Africa’s Home Affairs spokesperson Mr Thabo Makgola told the South African media that his department received about 180 000 applications from individuals intending to regularise their stay in the neighbouring country.
“The Department of Home Affairs is pleased to announce that it has completed the adjudication and printing of 178 172 applications for the ZEP.
“The ZEP is meant to regularise the stay of Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa for work, study or legal business. Of the nearly 180 000 applications, 108 485 permits were processed and have been collected,” said Mr Makgola.
He said another batch of 39 089 permits had also been processed but were yet to be collected while 1 932 applicants had been told to fix their passports or risk losing out.
Zimbabwe Consul General to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said applicants who have not received communication from South Africa regarding their permits should not panic.
He said the neighbouring country’s Home Affairs Department is still processing the remaining applications.
“We have engaged the South African authorities who have said they will be done with their verification exercise in the next two weeks before sending to the VFS Global, a company engaged by the SA government to assist in processing the applications.
We would be advised as to when the process would be done,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.
“Those who have not received their permits but have submitted valid documents and their passports are still valid, should not panic because their applications are being processed.”
Zimbabwe’s Registrar General’s Office on its part prioritised the issuance of passports to ZEP applicants.
Last year, the South African government announced that the permits will not be extended beyond 2021.
According to the International Organisation for Migration report of 2012, an estimated 1,5 million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa. The Chronicle.