Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
THE South African government has resolved to extend work permits for nearly 200 000 Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) holders working in the neighbouring country beyond December 31, media reports have revealed.
Issued in 2014, the permits were scheduled to expire on December 31 this year.
Zimbabweans working in South Africa under the special dispensation have been having sleepless nights after the neighbouring country had earlier indicated it would not renew them.
Zimbabwe’s Consul General in South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said the country’s Embassy will meet their South African counterparts to discuss the latest development.
“I can confirm it has happened. I’ll have more details next week because that is when we are meeting the Minister of Home Affairs (Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize of South Africa). But I understand she will be organising a press conference to announce how they will handle the issue of the new permits. What is important now is to engage the Minister to hear the conditions,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro
The South African Press yesterday reported that the country’s cabinet approved the extensions under yet to be unveiled conditions.
South Africa’s Minister of Communications Ms Ayanda Dlodlo reportedly told the media that their cabinet has given the green light to the new Home Affairs Minister Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize to start offering work permits to Zimbabweans.
“Cabinet approved that the department of Home Affairs can reopen the re-application process for the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) holders, under certain conditions,” read media reports.
“The initial special dispensation to document Zimbabweans who were in South Africa illegally was approved in April 2009. Their permits expire on December 31, 2017.
“The Minister of Home Affairs, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, will hold a separate briefing to explain the conditions and the process to be followed once the re-application opens.”
The former SA Home Affairs Minister Mr Melusi Gigaba once told ZSP holders that it was unsustainable for his government to continue issuing the special permits.
He encouraged them to apply for the permits just like other immigrants.
The new development is therefore a relief to thousands of Zimbabweans who benefited under the ZSP scheme who were increasingly becoming anxious over their continued stay in the neighbouring country.
The International Organisation for Migration in 2012 estimated that up to 1.5 million Zimbabweans were living in South Africa. — @nqotshili