The issue of whether the permits issued under the Zimbabwe dispensation project will be renewed come end of 2017 has been on the minds of many since the beginning of the year.
There have been many mixed signals over the past few months but now it has become clear that the ZSPs will not be renewed. Although I cannot say I am surprised at this possibility given the many factors counting against a decision in favour of renewing the ZSP. It being an election cycle and given the negative sentiments towards foreigners perceived to be taking jobs of SA citizens and recent news items on foreigners and crime ridden areas , as well as the results of the local government elections, it was unlikely that the government would take a position that would likely affect them negatively in the upcoming general elections.
The Minister of Home Affairs Mr Malusi Gigaba made comments relating to this issue in his media briefing published on the 29th of January 2017. Many may have missed this issue as the subject of this briefing was the Lesotho Dispensation project and the many false statements that had been making the rounds. To quote directly from the statement ;
“Special dispensations, for regularising the stay of migrants from SADC, are among means of managing this flow of migrant labour in the region. We had started with Zimbabweans, with no intention, as clearly communicated, to confer or create expectations of permanent residence.
Accordingly, we have advised Zimbabwean nationals, whose special permits are expiring, to apply for visas we issue under the mainstream immigration legislation, in the event they aspire tostay for any other purpose or period. On the basis of Cabinet’s decision on this matter, an announcement will be made on how we are going to proceed.”
It is now clear from the above statement that the ZSPs will not be renewed . So what now for holders of these permits ?
As advised it is prudent to begin steps to move away from the ZSP on to the main stream immigration visas. This will mean lodging applications through the newly opened VFS offices in Zimbabwe. We have been informed by VFS of a procedure for ZSP Holders not to have their passports withheld after submission so as to allow the applicants to return to work.
Not all will be able to successfully apply for mainstream visas as not everyone will qualify. What will happen to these people? We will most certainly know when the announcement is made on Cabinets decision.
Lead immigration specialist at Strategies Migration Services SA
Cell: +2774 337 0269
tel : +2711 064 4875