BY SILAS NKALA
CLOSE to 198 000 diasporans using Zimbabwean Special Dispensation permits (ZSDP) in South Africa have been unsettled by the host country’s delays in renewing their permits.
The Zimbabweans under the ZSDP facility acquired their documents in 2010. They were renewed in 2014 and 2017. Indications are that the documents will expire on December 31, thus the need for renewal.
Zimbabwe Community in SA chairperson Ngqabutho Mabhena said they were still waiting for the South African Home Affairs minister Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi to announce the way forward on the permits. “We had hoped that they would announce it this September, but we are now drawing close to the end of the month. Traditionally, they announce before mid-September. The permit application process normally begins from October 1 to December 31. This was the case in 2010, 2014 and 2017,” Mabhena said.
“We will be contacting the SA Home Affairs ministry to find out what is happening during the course of this week. We are also receiving reports of financial institutions like banks which are asking people to update their accounts since their passports will be expiring or their permits coming to an end.”
Mabhena said the Zimbabwe Community in SA and the African Diaspora Forum were working with the Zimbabwean embassy on the issue.
“In 2010, 295 000 people had applied for the permits and 245 000 of them were issued with permits. By 2017, we had 198 000 that had applied to renew their permits. Our desire is that the holders of the Zimbabwe special permits should be granted permanent resident permits,” he said. A few weeks ago, the Zimbabwe consul-general to Johannesburg, Melody Chaurura, said the embassy was engaging South African authorities on the issue of special permits.
“We can, however, confirm that consultations on the issue have been underway among the relevant stakeholders in South Africa and the issue has since been submitted to Cabinet for decisions,” she said.
“In this regard, we continue to wait for pronouncements by the government’s competent authorities on the future of these permits. In the meantime, we encourage the holders of these permits to exercise patience and to be watchful for scams.”
South Africa is believed to be home to an estimated three million Zimbabweans; both irregular and regular immigrants.