Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs) holders who applied for waivers are anxiously waiting for a response from the South African government, with just five and a half months remaining before the permits expire.
Visumuzi Sibanda, who is the leader of the African Diaspora Global Network, a migrant-rights organisation located in South Africa, claimed that the SA government has hitherto said nothing further about the extension or responded to new applications. Said Sibanda:
The major news we had was in October when the court hearing to challenge the termination (launched by the Helen Suzman Foundation) was postponed to the beginning of February this year after the Minister of Home Affairs said they still need more time to prepare.
According to the Minister of Home Affairs, less than 9 000 people in total made applications for either waivers or mainstream permits.
But up to date, since people started applying in 2021, they have not received any decision whatsoever.
The Department of Home Affairs has not said anything.
Sibanda said applying for new permits is challenging for ZEP holders as South Africa’s regulations state that applicants must have scarce skills to be granted permits. He said:
People were told they need to apply for mainstream visas so those that qualify should stay, meaning people can apply for work visas.
Applying for a work visa ideally means one has scarce skills but according to the new rules and regulations, it doesn’t mean you must only have a scarce skill but have a permanent job and a company that has offered the permanent job.
That company must have also advertised that job and found nobody in South Africa who can fill in that particular position.
This is the main visa that people must qualify for because the general visa no longer exists in South Africa unless one has a relative visa, where you’ve been married in South Africa.
Sibanda said the extension announced by the South African government was verbal and published in a gazette but was not reflected on the holders’ passports.
As a result, the ZEP holders do not have proof at hand that they are legally residing in South Africa. He said:
If you are arrested the matter may be postponed for seven days so that Home Affairs can ascertain whether your permit is valid or not.
Some people are losing their jobs because employers now cannot keep them in employment when they don’t see any valid visa and because of the new laws from the Department of Labour that prohibit the employment of foreigners.
He added that some banks are holding onto money belonging to ZEP holders and will not release the money, demanding that Zimbabwean nationals bring valid passports. | CITE