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.


Munyaradzi Nkomo

Lead immigration specialist at Strategies Migration Services SA


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