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SA stops issuance of special dispensation permits to Zimbabweans

The South African government has ended the issuance of special dispensation permits to Zimbabweans giving beneficiaries a 12-month grace period to regularise their stay or face deportation.

The scheme that had been extended to over 200 000 Zimbabweans working in that country since 2009 is set to expire on the 31st of December this year.

Cabinet spokesperson Ms Phumla Williams said the government had decided that those Zimbabweans who previously benefited from the special dispensation permits were now free to apply for other permits appropriate for them to stay in South Africa.

“Cabinet considered the much-talked about ZEP and also noted the fake news being spread on these permits,” she said.

“The first Zimbabwean special dispensation started in 2009 and was called the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Permit. It provided for the documentation of qualifying Zimbabweans for a five-year period.

“In 2014, the dispensation was extended by three years and called the Zimbabwean Special Permit. The current ZEP was initiated in 2017 and comes to an end on 31 December 2021.”

Ms Williams added that the cabinet had decided to “no longer issue extensions to the Zimbabwean special dispensations. However, it decided on a 12-month grace period at the expiry of the current ZEP.

“During this period, the holders of this permit should apply for other permits appropriate to their particular status or situation. At the expiry of this 12-month period, those who are not successful will have to leave South Africa or be deported.”

It is estimated that South Africa is home to nearly 3 million Zimbabweans who fled the country seeking better economic prospects and political asylum. Most of them are said to have no proper documentation.

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