Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
THE Government has started engaging South African authorities over permits for Zimbabweans which are set to expire in December.
At least 200 000 Zimbabweans in South Africa face deportation when their special dispensation permits expire on December 31.
Zimbabwe’s Consular General, Mr Batiraishe Henry Mukonoweshuro yesterday told The Chronicle that the embassy was seized with the matter, saying they were waiting for South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize to finalise consultations.
“We have engaged the South African government over the issue of Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSP), which are expiring in less than six months time.
“We are however, still waiting for Minister Mkhize to make her pronouncements in due course on the way forward,” he said.
Mr Mukonoweshuro urged ZSP holders to be patient as the embassy continues to engage South African authorities on the issue.
In February this year, South Africa 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 on December 31.
The then Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said ZSP holders wishing to extend their stay at the expiry of their permits would do so under the conventional immigration laws.
He said that in the event that ZSP holders aspire to stay for any other purpose or period, they will have to apply for visas issued under the mainstream immigration legislation.
Minister Gigaba 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.
ZSP 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.
Of late there has been a disturbing trend of anti-immigrant sentiments and misinformation in South Africa.
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.
The South African government later refuted the claims in a media statement.