200 000 Zimbabweans apply for SA permits

Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba

JOHANNESBURG — Zimbabwean nationals who hold the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP) permit and are hoping to extend their stay in South Africa have until the end of the month to book an appointment for their Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) application to be processed, Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.

Gigaba told reporters in Johannesburg that the process of regularising the stay of thousands of Zimbabweans living, studying and working in SA was moving smoothly, with shorter queues and a reduced likelihood of bribery and corruption than in 2010 during the DZP process.

The ZSP is given to Zimbabweans who hold the DZP permit and is valid until December 31 2017. It allows them to remain in SA and apply for a visa relevant to the terms of their stay in the country.

However, think-tanks are nervous that the permit’s scope is too narrow to accommodate all Zimbabweans looking to regularise their stay and that deportations in terms of the Immigration Act remain likely.

Gigaba said while most of the 245 000 eligible Zimbabwean nationals made ZSP permit applications throughout the country, those who did not make an appointment by the end of this month would not be considered for the permit.

“There are 206 936 people who have booked appointments,” he said.

“The applicants who still have to book their applications have until end of March to do so. The outstanding ones are encouraged to meet the deadline for application by March 31 or they will forfeit their right for the ZSP permit.”

Gigaba said the only applicants for the ZSP who were likely to be unsuccessful would be those who are unemployed, without business or a place of study in SA.

He said some of the DZP holders who did not apply for ZSP permits might have already secured visas or left the country.

Senior researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society Roni Amit said while it was important to regularise the stay of Zimbabwean economic migrants in SA, the process needed to accommodate many more Zimbabweans, as well as other nationalities.

“Regularisation of the stay of economic migrants is a good thing, but it must be expanded to cover a wider range of economic migrants.

This process only applies to people who already had the (DZP) permits.

“Anyone who came here after 2010 would not count and anyone who was excluded in the first round doesn’t have a chance of extending their stay,” Amit said.