South African work exemption permits for Zimbabweans have been extended by 12 months until the end of this year, but Zimbabwean holders wanting to stay must use this period to apply for an appropriate ordinary permit.
Quoting the Government, South African media yesterday widely reported the development saying permit holders would be allowed to apply for a necessary visa under the South African Immigration Act and regularise their stay in the country.
The formal extension goes beyond the original decision to let the permits expire at the end of last year but to allow Zimbabweans who had been holders to continue living and working in South Africa, but without any formal legal status, which was generating a number of serious problems when it came to things like bank accounts.
The Zimbabwean exemption permit was introduced in 2009 as a temporary solution to legalise the stay of some Zimbabweans in South Africa, as part of the strong bilateral ties that exist between the two countries.
South African publication, Times Live, reported that on Thursday the South African Cabinet decided to grant the grace period.
“During this period the holders of this permit should apply for other permits appropriate to their particular status or situation,” read part of the message.
“This decision was motivated by our desire to ensure eligible Zimbabweans can regularise their stay in SA. We appeal to the holders of this permit to use the 12 months to regularise their status in SA.”
It means holders of the exemption cannot be arrested or ordered to depart South Africa and are allowed to enter into or depart from South Africa during this year. The extension is a confirmation of the level of importance placed on the human resources coming from Zimbabwe as well as the excellent relations that exist between the two countries.