SOUTH Africa Home Affairs minister Naledi Pandor is this week expected to provide clarity on the renewal of special permits given to Zimbabwean immigrants as concern grows over the fate of thousands of economic and political refugees in that country.
The Department of Home Affairs announced early this month that the Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP) will come to an end this year.
Those who want to renew work and residency permits will not be allowed to do so while in South Africa.
There is apprehension among the Zimbabwean community in South Africa, believed to be numbering over two million, that fresh attempts to flush them out of the neighbouring country will be intensified.
Organisations representing Zimbabwean immigrants have indicated that they will engage Pretoria on the way forward with MDC’s South African branch saying it was taking up the issue of permits with the authorities.
“In continuing with work previously done by the MDC RSA on this project, the MDC RSA has set up a team to engage various stakeholders and assist Zimbabweans with the renewal of these permits,” the party said in a statement yesterday.
“We will make every effort to engage Zimbabweans in South Africa and provide information on ongoing developments for this project.”
Some organisations are reportedly mulling legal action against the South African government. Zimbabweans without proper documents were given permits under the DZP in 2009.
At the time South Africa also halted the mass deportation of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants.
Pandor last week said she had obtained Cabinet approval for the new system, which she is expected to outline tomorrow.
“In this regard, Cabinet agreed that the permit holders will be expected to reapply for their permits in their country of origin,” she said last week.
The Migrant Workers’ Association of South Africa says it will be going to court to challenge the move by Pretoria saying they had information that the permits would not be renewed once they apply from Zimbabwe.