Fear Grips Zimbabweans Attempting to Renew South African Permits

Source: Fear Grips Zimbabweans Attempting to Renew South African Permits – VOA

Many Zimbabweans who applied for asylum in South Africa say they are now scared of renewing their permits following an increase in the number of those that are arrested and deported while attempting to update them.

Several Zimbabweans living in that country told VOA Studio 7 that they are now scared of visiting immigration centers as they fear that they may be arrested and sent back home to face serious economic and political challenges.

Authorities are on record vowing to rid the asylum system of economic refugees who use it to regularize their stay in the country.

The government says one of the key objectives of the new immigration laws being proposed in South Africa are aimed at stopping the abuse of the asylum system by foreign nationals looking for greener pastures.

But others think the authorities could be sending Zimbabweans back home to participate in the 2018 elections.

Over 200,000 Zimbabweans are under the Zimbabwe Special Permit program. Their documents expire at the end of this year.


  • comment-avatar
    William the Proud 5 years ago

    This story contains factual inaccuracies that debase the professionalism of the news source, being the Voice of America.

    In May 2009, the South African government invited all Zimbabweans living in South Africa to apply for asylums. The bar was set very low. All you had to prove was that you are Zimbabwean, by showing your passport or as I have heard, your valid Zimbabwean ID. Many people applied for these asylum permits, which had to be renewed every 6 months. I understand there are problems related to these and they constitute a story on their own.

    Then in September 2010, the South African government opened the Zimbabwe Dispensation Program (DZP), allowing Zimbabwean passport holders to apply for study, work and business permits. The stated intention was to regularise the stay of Zimbabweans in South Africa, implying that it was a foregone conclusion that those people who accessed the DZP permits would qualify for permanent residency on meeting the requirements. This was supported by the South African government calling on all Zimbabweans with illegally acquired South African IDs to surrender them in favour of the DZP.

    I believe that over 300 000 people acquired the DZP permits. They were issued under a section of the Immigration Act that allowed one to qualify for permanent residency. The DZP permits were issued with only one endorsement. For example, it would state “To study only”

    The only problem with the DZP was that it was valid for 4 years and you need to have been in South Africa for five years before you can apply for a permanent residency.

    Enter the ZSP, the Zimbabwe Special Permit. It was only open to holders of the DZP and was valid for 3 years.

    Now the legal requirement for permanent residency (i.e. 5 years of legal stay) was met. Surprisingly, the ZSP came with 4 additional endorsements. One particularly stated that holding the ZSP does not entitle a person to applying for South African permanent residency.

    There are legal questions (and a big story) you journalists are not addressing. Could the South African Government unilaterally change the terms of the DZP program, allowing holders to apply for South African permanent residency, to this farce taking place over the ZSP.

    If the South African government was legally bound to issue South African permanent residency to those holders of the DZP and its successor the ZSP, what redress is available to those affected?

    Those are the two stories (i.e. what happens to those people who responded to the inviration of the South African government to apply for asylums and the other being the fate of ZSP holders) you must factually report on, analyse and advise the many Zimbabweans about, instead of taking cheap shots at, by creating sensational headlines.

  • comment-avatar

    No gorvenment can inherits more than a quarter million of Mugabe economic refugees as their citizens come public holidays especially December almost all are going back home to their families, (permanent residence )then all will qualify for social grants which their government destroyed back home and drive them away to foreign land now the same people in power are also always in foreign lands some dying there cabinet ministers former chief justice who ruled for destruction also perished in SA asking for permanent residence