COMMENT: Former ZEP holders: Numerous investment opportunities available at home

05 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
COMMENT: Former ZEP holders: Numerous investment opportunities available at home Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP)

The Chronicle

In force over the past 15 years, a special visa allowing some Zimbabweans to legally work, live and study in South Africa will be discontinued on June 30.

About 180 000 who did not qualify for the right to stay under conventional visas were on the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP). That dispensation was implemented around 2008 when the economic situation in our country was at its worst.  It served as a door for some of our compatriots who genuinely found it difficult to make ends meet locally to seek to work and live in South Africa legally. They secured jobs, college places and even opened bank as well as credit accounts, things that people without mainstream visas could not do.

We thank the South African government for creating this window which greatly assisted our people.  Good neighbourliness is rescuing a friend next door when they are in need.  That emphasises the solid relations that our country shares with South Africa.

However, Zimbabwe’s economy has long passed that phase of currency collapse, hyperinflation, and food shortage and so on.  It is rebounding with inflation under control, the currency restored and food plenty.

Thus, South Africa felt there was no longer a need to maintain the special visa.  Having taken the decision, it did not wake up one morning to begin to kick out the ZEP holders.  We have lost count of the number of times the visa expired and was extended.  This reminded the ZEP holders that they were on a special visa which would expire at some point.

Last year when the decision was taken not to further prolong the permit, South Africa encouraged those who thought they still wanted to live, work and study in that country to apply for alternative visas.  Some have already applied and received their new papers. Those who haven’t still have almost six months within which to regularise their stay. That period, in our view, is long enough for them to put their papers in order.

Advocate Gabriel Shumba

Those who don’t qualify or feel they no longer want to live in South Africa, the Government has assured them, are welcome back home.  It has said returnees can ship all their property before the date of their arrival into the country duty-free.  Each one of them can bring in one personal vehicle registered in their names without the need to pay duty.  The immigration department has been charged to ensure a smooth return of the former ZEP holders.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum chairperson, Mr Gabriel Shumba said the move by the Government to ensure a seamless return was a step in the right direction.

There are a few challenges, he noted, among them that the returnees are allowed to bring home just one car duty free.  He suggested the number be increased; rather wants a blanket waiver on all properties legally owned by those returning home.

We urge Mr Shumba and his team to engage the Government on matters they think must be looked into. We don’t think the Government will reject good suggestions to accord a hassle-free comeback for our people.  Where implementation of the process is causing some discomfort, authorities will listen and can quickly order officials at Beitbridge or any border point they choose to use, to make the necessary adjustments.


Those who are returning, we hope, accumulated savings during their stay abroad or have been investing back home.  This will make it easy for them to settle in.  We have carried inspiring stories about some of our compatriots who worked abroad for some time and returned home to invest in agriculture, mining, tourism and other sectors. They are doing well in their businesses, with some wondering why they spent so much time away. These stories must get ZEP holders to know that there are countless business opportunities at home, opportunities that are often unavailable to people resident in an adopted country.

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