SOUTH AFRICA’S Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba yesterday said he will make a pronouncement on the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation permits in August.
More than 200 000 Zimbabweans in the neighbouring country are in panic mode after the introduction of immigration regulations that will see them and other foreign nationals who overstay being banned from entering South Africa.
Zimbabweans were granted special permits in 2009 to legalise their stay in South Africa, but the documents are due to expire before the end of this year. Last month, Gigaba hinted that his ministry would not extend special permits granted to Zimbabweans under the special dispensation by a year arguing that there would be an influx of permanent residence applications.
But yesterday he told the South African Parliament that he would announce the final decision next month.
“I wish to announce that we are in the final stages of deliberations about the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation which will expire in December this year,” he said.
“I am mindful of the anxiety among the Zimbabwean nationals in possession of this special permit issued in 2010, but I shall announce my decision in August this year.”
Gigaba said future policy development would focus on, among other issues, a framework to better deal with economic migrants, most of who have tended to pose as asylum seekers.
“We are actively seeking a solution on how best to separate asylum-seekers and refugees from economic migrants,” he said.
Meawnhile, the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA) yesterday urged Zimbabweans in South Africa to be patient and wait for the announcement on the special permits instead of relying on social media updates.
“We would like to urge affected Zimbabweans to be patient on the matter,” said ZCSA chairperson Ngqabutho Mabhena.
“They should wait for official communication from relevant government ministers from both countries and not act on what is said on social media.”
Two Zimbabweans have already fallen victim to the new stringent visa regime