South Africa announces end to special dispensation for Zimbabweans

Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba

Mashudu Netsianda / Thupeyo Muleya, Senior Reporters
SOUTH Africa has announced that Zimbabweans who acquired permits under special dispensation will have to follow the normal channel of applying for work and study visas when their permits expire in December.

At least 200 000 Zimbabweans in South Africa face deportation when their special dispensation permits expire on December 31.  They will then have to return home to apply for new permits.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, in a statement on Tuesday, confirmed speculation in the mainstream and social media in recent weeks that Zimbabwe Special Permits holders (ZPS) wishing to extend their stay at the expiry of their permits will do so under the conventional immigration laws.

“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 to stay 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, but wild speculation, rumour-mongering, raising false alarm, fear and loathing are unwarranted,” Mr Gigaba said.

He said when the South African government introduced ZSP in August 2014, it had no intention to confer Zimbabweans with permanent residence status.

The special dispensation allowed Zimbabwean holders of the special permit to work, conduct business or study in South Africa for three years.

“We had started the special dispensation with Zimbabweans, with no intention, as clearly communicated, to confer or create expectations of permanent residence. South Africa, like other countries in the Sadc region, is well aware of challenges of border control, and the concomitant influx of economic migrants into the country, many under the pretext of asylum-seeking, with others breaking SA’s immigration legislation,” he said.

Mr Gigaba said the special dispensation proved to be an effective way of regularising the stay of Zimbabweans among other migrants from the Sadc as well as managing the flow of migrant labour in the region.

ZPS is a programme that replaced Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project (DZP) which ran from May to December 31, 2010. Only those who benefited under the DZP programme were eligible to apply for work and study permits under ZSP.

Zimbabwe’s top envoy to South Africa Ambassador Isaac Moyo said the embassy was still engaging the host government over the permits.

He also dismissed the often-quoted figure of three million Zimbabweans said to be resident in South Africa, saying only about 1,8 million at most are in that country.

Opposition parties and pseudo non-governmental organisations have often said three million Zimbabweans have been resident in the neighbouring country in the last decade.

“There are less than three million Zimbabweans living in South Africa,” he said. “We have approximately 1,5 to 1,8 million resident here. The figures are being over-exaggerated. How do you add together the number of documented and undocumented people?”

“We are yet to discuss further what will happen at the end of the ZSP programme,” he said. “I can only give more information after we are through with our engagements.”

Zimbabwe’s consul-general to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said it was difficult to arrive at figures in the absence of a data base showing the demographics of the documented and undocumented Zimbabweans.

“Until and when we have a data base, can we be able to come up with a figure. Those who benefited from the ZSP are a fraction of Zimbabweans living in South Africa.

“You will also note that part of these people were students who have completed their education and went back home or migrated to other countries. The figures keep fluctuating as many people die or leave the country.”

Mr Gigaba expressed concern over a disturbing trend of anti-immigrant sentiments and misinformation. The most recent has been the false messages which circulated on social media alleging the South African Home Affairs has called for immediate deportations of undocumented migrants from some African countries.

Mr Gigaba refuted the claims.

“We will not incite citizens to take the law into their hands when we have the legal means ourselves lawfully to control illegal migration and effect deportations as necessary. International migration is a global phenomenon, and is increasingly prominent in political and social discourse in many countries.

“South Africa, like many countries around the world, plays a careful balancing act in managing immigration.

“We value our connectedness with the rest of the world; our citizens visit and migrate to other countries, and so do we receive visitors and migrants from other countries,” said Mr Gigaba.


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  • AbaseLowerGweru

    Thina sivele sazalwa okhulu beseWenela, abantu bazahlalela njengakudala

    • job 50

      uqinisile wena vele abantu bebephila kunjalo

  • koka

    how does this Isaac know that they between 1.5 – 1.8m zimbabweans in SA when they are many undocumented people. I think 3 million figure is very much possible. 95% of those are people from Matebeleland, majority of them displaced by guguraundi.

    • Masekwameng

      The figure could be well over 3 million

    • Masekwameng

      I wonder why these reporters keep on disputing that there are over 3 million Zimbos in South Africa. After all SA has a population of over 51 million and Zimbos (3 million) are just about 6% in addition of the entire populace

  • Godlwayo

    Saphila kunzima eGoli sohlala kunje kunzima kulukhuni….

  • Masekwameng

    Funny enough when you check the home affairs department (, there is no formal statement from Gigaba regarding ZSP. Reporters must wait until there is formal communication, rather than reporting endless and incoherent quotes from Mr Gigaba.

    • vusumuzi

      When a state-owned paper like this one announces News, it will never be in favor of The People. They only print out what they want to happen. How many times has the same paper said “Zimbabweans in RSA face deportation”? Is the paper’s heart with the Zimbabweans down there , or what? After all they do not even mention THE POSITIVE dids of those who work there; Its always been Matebelenand living on the Rand, its young discriminated population, ever hard working and innovative , going to live, work there and remembering home always. How much food came in during the Mad Years around 2008? And wasn’t the ZRP , hungey yet working for rich ZANU, begging them for food on the highways? Did this paper ever mention the important part played by Injivas? No. Why? Because its a Shona -owned paper, ever demining us here through its Shona staff who “write special features on Mthwakazi” yet not knowing anything. There are over 3 million of our brothers there, like it or not. Zimbabwe is badly mis-managed and the gun is used on all-Shona , Ndebele, etc, regardless of who enjoyed the massacres back then , believing it was for their “good”. Before anyone say TRIBALIST to me, first look at the Deeds/ izenzo zika Mgabe in Mthwakazi, then confirm i am one.

      • MakhosiXamu

        Kikikikikiiiiiiiiii. a stupid fool or should I say a mental deranged man is running amok.

        • vusumuzi

          the mentally deranged One is U yIHLO WHO MASSACRED abafowethu using State Machinery , then claim he was mad then. I never confessed i am mad , but He did say so. Even Mpoko said so when using Gugurahundi to “campaign”. Wena whgen you read it , you jumped that part KKKKKKKKKKKK

          • MakhosiXamu

            I will not be bothered by such utterances ndoda. I used to respect war vets but lately I no longer care. Look at you Vusumuzi and Joyce Mujuru – War Vets ngabantu abagulayo emakhanda…….. kiikikikikikikiiiiiiiiiii. Look at any war vet …..kikikikikiiiii zinhlanya zodwa.

          • matshobane

            wena uyinja yomuntu, uphambene.Ndwangu yothuvi!

        • Nsukwini

          Bazakhu donsa okhungamsenjana mpankwa wothuvi. kikikikikiki

          • MakhosiXamu

            Ndoda ungenze ngathukuthela ngali nhlamba …..mmmmmm …donsa okungamasenjana ?. Wangihlambaza kutheni?. Madoda kasihloniphane.

    • Solomon

      I cant agree with you more. I thought I was out of touch with the news but as far as the last official statement by Gigaba is concerned, he was going to consult with his cabinet colleagues on the proposed way forward and then make an announcement before the end of Feb.This he said after he had applied his mind. Remember he also said he is mindful that some people have established families in South Africa, and that will be pivotal in his rexommendation to his colleagues in the cabinet. So this statement together with Nehanda radio seems far from the truth. And home affairs website has no post like this.

  • steve blomefield

    Blah blah blah….. talk talk talk I would like to ask rsa home affair exactly how they are going to deport 200,000 ex permit holders?
    1. By trains….. they all jump off the trains at the first stop and they cant catch them kkkk
    2 By plane … do you really think that south africa will charter 600 planes? What about passports at harare airport????
    3. By buses. At Beitbridge they will simply walk back to RSA

    Guys… this is just talk. You permit holders dont worry, something will happen allowing you to stay.

  • Nkunzemnyama

    Hayi thina vele asazi ukuthi bakhuluma ngani ndendaba zama ZPS/ DZP. Okhokho, okhulu, obaba, labafowethu basebenza e Goli bengalawo ama permit. Aku change anything for me.Angikaze ngangena emfuleni (uNgulukudela).

    • MakhosiXamu

      Excuses and more excuses … shame.

      • Nkunzemnyama

        i excuse ngu nyoko swina-ndini le zanu. Mbumbu kanyoko.

        • MakhosiXamu

          You are simply insulting your mother , shame.

  • MakhosiXamu

    I wish to thank Jacob Zuma for a job well done. Kick out all illegal settlers from Zimbabwe- uyi ndoda emadodeni. Most people are manipulating your soft hand so that they may cross the border knowing very well that Zuma has a soft spot. khahlela baphume. Make sure your security guys tighten the borders. Thank you Mr Zuma , thank you , ngiyabonga.

    • vusumuzi

      Running away from someone with a HARD SPOT, toward someone with a SOFT SPOT . Well said Bra Jo , but clumsily said kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.

    • matshobane

      Zimbabwe should take a hard stance as well and deport Mugabe back to Malawi!

    • Syabulongo

      zikuncitsheni injiva ngo December..kkkkk

  • Bheki

    SA government introduced these permits to us when we were already living here and working. Even they wake up and decide to cancel those permits, it makes no difference to us.

    • Masekwameng

      Well said Bheki. Perhaps they should consider giving us permanent residence cause we are here to stay, with or without the permits kkkiiiiii

  • Wellington

    Maybe they want people to come and vote here in 2018, that will be a wellcome development so zanu is kicked in the face once and for all

  • OkaSlwane

    Rubbish, udoti ingcekeza le oyibhale lapha Mashudu!!! The cabinet is yet to make a decision yet your headline suggests otherwise??? Besides, this is a re-harsh of an earlier story which appears to be appetizing to your ears: lisizondela ukuthi sabalekela eMzansi when you thought we would all die of hunger and your government’s systematic marginalization?

  • son of the soil

    Nothing new and amazing about this announcement!!We all knew the SA government would not want anything to do with illegal immigrants(for which this DZP was meant ) ,the majority Zimbos(no doubt about that),since that project was just an “uncomfortable but graceful favour” they did for our dear brothers and sisters who we all know most are economic refugees to Africa’s Economic giant that is SA which is a ”magnet” to refugees.This we also know,is because they want these guys to comeback home and vote 2018.#Cliche