African Press Association

Panic as Zimbabweans lobby for SA permit extension

South African Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – CIVIL society organisations representing the Zimbabwean community are lobbying the South African government to speedily determine the future of thousands of permit holders whose documents are expiring in December.

Ahead of the December 31 expiry, panic has gripped the permit holders in the middle of fears the documents would not be renewed thus triggering mass deportations.

About 200 000 nationals from the South Africa’s northern neighbor applied for the documents under the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) project.

Chairman of ZSP Lobby Group, Darlington Chiuta, expressed the Zimbabweans’ plight to South African Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, so he could consider their input while he “applies his mind” on the matter.

Gigaba said he “needed time to apply his mind on the matter without being put under pressure.”

“We do not believe that asking for a chair on the table where our fate is being discussed can be any wrong doing no-matter which angle you look at it from,” said Chiuta.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Chairman, Advocate Gabriel Shumba, said the organisation continued lobbying and advocacy work associated with any possible extension of the permit.

“With other human rights organisations and the Zimbabwean Consulate, we are equally worried and continue to engage the department of home affairs on this issue,” Shumba said.

He expressed gratitude Gigaba continued engaging them on “this very sensitive and life-changing issue.”

“As ZEF, we welcome his statement and as he has said, urge Zimbabweans who can migrate to mainstream permits to do so while this call is open,” said Shumba.

Concern has been raised officials at the Home Affairs erroneously believe ZSP permit holders cannot apply for another permit while on the ZSP.

“The position is that you are only barred from extending or changing conditions of the same permit while in South Africa,” explained Shumba.

Migration expert, Janet Munakamwe, concurred with Shumba.

She implored Home Affairs to reflect on the demographical data of the ZSP holders predominantly employed in vulnerable sectors like domestic, cleaning, drivers, gardening, farm work and others.

“These categories of workers might find it difficult to migrate to mainstream permits due to the stringent conditions and requirements like skills,” she said

Under a special dispensation granted by Pretoria in 2014, Zimbabweans who had previously been granted permits under the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project were allowed to re-register for the three-year ZSP.

Deputy Consular from the Zimbabwean Consulate, Energy Chawoneka, appealed for patience.

“The ZSP issue was a result of bilateral talks between the two governments. The holders should be patient and wait for the official announcement from the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs,” said Chawoneka.

– CAJ News