News / Africa

S. Africa Unveils Amnesty Extension Plan for Zimbabweans

FILE - Zimbabweans fill out application forms outside Immigration offices in Johannesburg.
FILE - Zimbabweans fill out application forms outside Immigration offices in Johannesburg.

In 2010, South Africa granted four-year residence permits to nearly a quarter-million Zimbabweans who had entered the country illegally.

Many had fled political and economic turmoil in their homeland, but lived abroad in fear of the day their permits would expire, forcing them to return.

But a recent announcement by the South African government on Tuesday has brought some relief.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has unveiled a new three-year Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP), which will grants applicants a three-year amnesty extension beginning January 1, 2015.

“Permit holders who wish to remain in South Africa after the expiry of their permits can re-apply," he said. "The ZSP will allow permit-holders to live, work, conduct business and study in South Africa until 31 December 2017.”

But the offer comes with a condition. Only holders of the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP) permits, which were issued in 2010, may apply for the new ZSP extension. Also, applicants will be required to provide a valid passport, proof of employment, study or business ownership, and have a clean criminal record.

According to Home Affairs officials, applicants will been given three-month window to submit their applications, beginning on October 1, via newly opened visa centers throughout the country.

Gigaba added that the ZSP will be the last special permits given to the Zimbabweans.

"ZSP permit-holders who wish to stay in South Africa after the expiry of their ZSP must return to Zimbabwe to apply for mainstream visas and permits under the Immigration Act," he said. "This means we will not be announcing in 2017 any new special permit."

The news of the new special permits has brought joy to the entire Zimbabwean community in South Africa.

Solomon Chikowero, chairman of a Zimbabwean diaspora group, says Zimbabweans could not have gotten a better deal than this one.

"At least they have a breathing space for the next three years to put their papers in place," he said. "There is also a leeway to move [away] from the ZSP — because it’s a special permit — to a proper permit, which can allow you to apply either for certification or permanent residency thereafter."

An estimated 1.5 million Zimbabweans are believed to be living in South Africa as a result of economic and political turmoil in their homeland in the past two decades.

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Comment Sorting
by: Flexx from: Western cape
August 16, 2014 3:50 AM
Thank you south africa for helping zimbabweans in a time of need,but the question remains that these permits are specifically for 250 000 zimbabweans who had previous permits due to expire.But here in south africa there is more than 3million zimbabweans,so the rest of them are going to stay as illigal immigrants or what and how does it benefit the government cz the rest wont be paying any taxes.Can someone please clarify this point for me.

by: Aqambile Sithole from: Pretoria
August 13, 2014 6:38 AM
South Africa has an official unemployment rate of over 25%, most affecting our youth. 250,000 jobs currently occupied by Zimbabwean citizens cannot continue forever. Well done, Gigabe, and do not buckle under the ruthless Zimbabwean lobbyist who appear to be ungrateful.
In Response

by: wolf tonic from: united states of america
August 27, 2014 5:28 AM
Don't you think the reason more zimbabweans are been employed than the youth of south africa is because they work harder and they more committed than south africans who want to wait for stuff to be done for them,also remember during apartheid south africans went to zimbabwe to seek help and you was welcomed with hugs,none of the the people of south africa needed papers to enter zimbabwe,but because 2dae yall have it u choose to look underneath the one who helped you once.....stop blaming other people for your failures...thank you
In Response

by: John phaswana from: Johannesburg
August 14, 2014 4:23 AM
Unemployment is a global problem lets view this in broader context, do we expect our neighbors Zimbabweans to die due to economic unrest and poverty. We are actually part of this world lets work together and try to help where we can. South African economy has already absorbed more than 2000000 Zimbabweans so i do not see it as a threat at all. It is actually a good thing to do as that will make it possible for the government to directly benefit through taxes.

by: Aquainted
August 12, 2014 4:40 PM
Really Malusi, please visit Zimbabwe yourself and see for yourself what a struggle people face at the Home Affairs Offices, especially at the main centers. Then there is the cost of the Passport and the delay. However this will be brushed aside as a requirement. Please take the time to re examine this.

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