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South Africa extends ZEP validity by six months, cites vast applications

Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) holders have been awarded another six months stay in South Africa to allow them them to apply for one or more other visas and waivers provided for in the Immigration Act.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi made the decision after noting an overwhelming number of applications by the affected nationals.

The permits that are held by more than 178,000 were due to expire on June 30. But South Africa has extended the validity of the exemption permits for a further period of 6 months, ending on 31 December 2023.

“As you are aware, the Minister of Home Affairs (Minister) issued a directive in September 2022, extending the validity of exemption permits issued to the Zimbabwean nationals to 30 June 2023. Since that time, significant developments took place,” read the statement by South Africa’s Home Affairs Department.

“The Minister has approved thousands of waiver applications of the affected Zimbabwean nationals. This has resulted in significant increase in the number of visa and waiver applications. The Departmental Advisory Committee (DAC) led by Dr Cassius Lubisi is now dealing with the increased number of visa applications.

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“The Minister is equally considering and approving waiver applications on a daily basis.

“Unlike before since May/beginning of June 2023, VFS Global is now receiving between 1000-1500 visa and waiver applications of the affected Zimbabwean nationals daily. For these reasons, the Director- General has deployed more officials to assist in the processing of the applications.

“The Minister took into consideration the said factors, including (to a certain extent) submissions received from the affected Zimbabwean nationals, relevant officials of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and other interested parties and decided to issue another Immigration Directive, extending the validity of Zimbabwean exemption permits for a further period of 6 months, ending on 31 December 2023. A copy of the Directive is annexed hereto marked “A”.

“The Minister’s Immigration Directive no: 2 of 2023, will be published in the Extraordinary Government Gazette tomorrow on Thursday, 8 June 2023

“The Minister calls upon all interested parties to take into consideration the said Directive in their decision-making processes.”

Meanwhile, the government of Zimbabwe recently said its Technical Committee on the Return of Zimbabwean Nationals, had designed a comprehensive Repatriation and Reintegration Plan to ensure their safe landing in the country.