The Zimbabwe government is now in panic mode after South Africa announced plans to suspend the temporary work permits of Zimbabweans who fled their country due to socio-economic factors, reported The NewsHawks.
Nearly three million Zimbabweans fled the country to South Africa seeking better economic prospects as well as political asylum.
Most of them have no proper documentation, according to organisations such as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Naledi Pandor, last month met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and her Zimbabwean counterpart Frederick Shava at State House where Zimbabwe pleaded with its southern neighbour to delay the deportation of locals whose documentation is invalid.
The NewsHawks reported a source as saying Shava felt that the move to suspend the temporary permits would affect the governing party’s 2023 election campaign. Another source said:
The government is not sure what Pretoria has up its sleeves, more so in the context of recent diplomatic engagements between the two countries.
The old permits, known as the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), replaced the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP).
The initial Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans was approved in April 2009 to document Zimbabwean nationals who were in South Africa illegally.
The ZSP allowed applications from Zimbabweans with a valid passport, evidence of employment, business or accredited study and a clear criminal record.
Successful applicants were granted permits to stay and work, study or run a business in South Africa.
The ZEP permits were to be issued for a maximum period of four years, beginning on 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2021.