A Zimbabwean group has decided to formally apply to the Courts in South Africa having recently been denied the opportunity to apply for exemptions in South Africa.
The group, which consists of Zimbabweans who have had to leave their homeland due to the progressive meltdown of the political and economic situation, are following the legal process to try and achieve a settled life for themselves and their families.
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The applicants have all complied with the conditions of extended dispensation permits, which allow them to work, study or conduct business for three years until the end of December 2017.
They are all productive and economically active members of South African society and do not see a future for themselves in Zimbabwe, as their families and friends have kept them informed of the situation there.
According to Leon Isaacson, Managing Director of Global Migration SA, this is a private and individual application initiative which will request specific terms as people are tired of living transitory lives.
While costs have been kept to minimum, those who participate are responsible for their own costs and share the costs of any later litigation.
How to proceed:
Anyone who holds a Zimbabwean dispensation permit and would like to join this initiative and apply should please complete the form below and use the subject line ZSP Exemption Process.
For further information contact Leon Isaacson at email [email protected] or call 021-419-0934.
Zimbabweans in SA anxiously await Home Affairs announcement on permit extension
Thousands of holders of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) are living in uncertainty because the South African government has not yet indicated whether it will renew their permits. About 180 000 Zimbabweans hold ZEPs. The four-year permit expires on 31 December 2021.
Some Zimbabweans said their banks had already warned them to renew their permits or face closure of their accounts in December.
The permits were first issued in 2010 under the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (ZDP). The programme was renewed in 2014 as the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP), before the ZEP was introduced in 2017.
Zimbabwe nationals desperate to resolve ZEP renewals
A Zimbabwean, who we will only identify as Matthew, said he can’t make plans for the future. He is a supervisor at a restaurant and lives in New Brighton with his wife and two children. He has been living in South Africa for 20 years.
“I started with an asylum seeker permit before I got the ZDP, ZSP and the ZEP. I have lived in this country for the better part of my adult life. It will be heartbreaking if the government refuses to renew the permits.
“I have two bank accounts and insurance as well as burial policies. These will all go down the drain if the government refuses to extend the permits.”
He said he is established in the community and his children speak fluent Xhosa. “They identify themselves with local culture because they were born here,” he said.
Another ZEP holder said South Africa should grant citizenship to those who have lived legally in the country for five or more years.
“Some people have invested a lot in the country. Others have bought immovable property, which they will be forced to leave,” he said.
Home Affairs mum on ongoing delays
Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network Chris Mapingure said, “We appeal to the Department of Home Affairs to issue a statement regarding the renewal of the ZEP.”
Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Advocate Gabriel Shumba said he is receiving an unprecedented number of enquiries from concerned permit holders.
“It is an issue that seriously affects thousands of Zimbabweans, especially with some banks threatening to close accounts.”
Home Affairs spokespersons Siya Qoza and David Hlabane have not responded to GroundUp’s queries.
Zimbabweans In SA Ask Government To Reduce Passport Processing Fees
Zimbabweans based in South Africa have appealed to government to reduce the passport processing fees saying they could not afford the current costs since their income has been negatively affected by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, said they had not been spared the COVID-19 economic hardships and hence the request for downward review of passport fees.
Zimbabweans based abroad are expected to pay US$318 for new passports. “We call on the government to reduce the passport fee in solidarity with the working people who are under global lockdown following the outbreak of coronavirus,” the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa spokesperson, Bongani Mazwi Mkwananzi said.
“A caring government will reduce the passport fees by at least 50% and still recoup passport production costs.”
The Registrar-General’s office says it is failing to clear a backlog of 300 000 applications due to foreign currency shortages to import consumables such as ink, films, ribbon and passport paper.
They also want the embassy in that country to be fully equipped to process passport applications, rather than the current situation where they have to return to Zimbabwe to hand in the application forms.
Zimbabwe Community in South Africa spokesperson, Bongani Mazwi, was quoted by the Herald newspaper on Thursday as saying that the organization had since engaged Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa over the matter.
“We call on the government to reduce the passport fees in solidarity with the working people who are under global lockdown following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mazwi said.
He said the government could cut the passport fee by 50 percent and still recoup production costs.
The request by Zimbabweans in South Africa comes after the Zimbabwe government announced that its diplomatic mission in South Africa had introduced a gradual resumption of consular services to facilitate the repatriation of those in need of returning home.
This follows the recent relaxation of lockdown measures by the South African government.
The Zimbabwean government last year introduced a policy to charge citizens living in the Diaspora in U.S. dollars for production of passports, as a way to help it raise foreign currency to import consumables required in production of passports.
It pegged the fee at $318 US dollars.
Most Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora have had their income streams affected by the pandemic, with students in particular, being the most affected.
This has resulted in many students opting to come back home, with government in some cases assisting with their repatriation.
“It has become painfully clear that one must fork out this huge amount to get a passport processed, otherwise they will wait months for a passport to be issued. Many have reported that they were told to top-up as long as their passports hold a work permit,” Mkwananzi said as he lamented the slow pace it takes the RG’s office to process passports.
Government in March this year gazetted Statutory Instrument 61 of 2020 to enable applicants to pay passport fees in foreign currency
Ramaphosa: We are reviewing foreign special permits
Foreigners in South Africa must brace for possible huge changes in immigration laws as the country plans to tighten screws on the employment of foreigners.
Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament that he has put in place an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) that will review employment laws. He mentioned that the IMC will look into the special dispensation permits awarded to Zimbabwean and Lesotho citizens in the country.
“The IMC will also review the decisions on special dispensation work permits, amendments to our Immigration Act, Employment Services Act and labour migration management,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the country will ensure that they employ only skilled foreigners. “We must ensure that our approach to the employment of foreign nationals provides and addresses the issue of scarce critical skills that we need to grow our economy,” said Ramaphosa.
The issue of foreigners has been a hot topic in the past few years with jobless South African citizens calling for foreigners to leave. The country has witnessed several incidents of attack on foreign nations in the past decade. Recently, foreign truck drivers were attacked by local drivers who demanded companies to employ only locals.
“In the end, we need to deal with the challenge our people always talk about, a challenge of foreign nationals who are here in great numbers in our country. We need to deal with it properly, politically and we need to deal with it historically,” added Ramaphosa.
Recently top Cabinet ministers such as Tito Mboweni and Fikile Mbalula have openly advocated for employment of locals ahead of foreigners.
Ramaphosa, however called locals not to blame foreigners for the current economic woes the country is going through. – DiasporaLIVE