ZIMBABWEAN job seekers without permits in South Africa are likely to be deported by the end of the year when a special dispensation they received two years ago expires, Sunday News can reveal.
Permits that were issued to Zimbabweans under the special Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP) are expiring in November and beneficiaries will now need to apply for permits.
South Africa Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor was early this month quoted as saying she was yet to make recommendations to Cabinet on how to proceed with the management of Zimbabweans who received the special dispensation allowing them to become documented work seekers.
However, according to a release posted on the South African government website last Thursday, Zimbabweans without work, business or study permits have been requested to apply for them before the expiry of the special dispensation.
“Cabinet has approved an approach to the expiry of permits issued under the Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans project in 2009. Permits issued during the initial Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project will expire in November 2014. This dispensation allowed Zimbabweans into South Africa, under relaxed conditions and provided them with work, study or business permits and suspended their deportation.
“Zimbabweans, who complied with the relaxed requirements and were given permits under the dispensation would be allowed to re-apply in their country of origin,” the release reads.
Acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams is quoted as saying: “The dispensation aimed to document Zimbabwean nationals who were in South Africa illegally as a result of the political and socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
“The Minister of Home Affairs will hold a separate briefing session to elaborate on how the process will unfold.”
South Africa suspended the deportation of undocumented Zimbabweans in May 2009 and later introduced a special dispensation during which Zimbabweans were given an opportunity to regularise their stay in South Africa by applying for work, business and study permits. The process of taking applications was officially completed on 31 December 2010.
The documentation process was later extended to 31 July 2011, following a special request from the Zimbabwean Government.
It is estimated that there are about two million Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
Exact figures are difficult to obtain due to the large proportion of undocumented migrants.
Most Zimbabweans reside in SA’s Gauteng province with a large concentration in the more economically advanced urban areas of Gauteng.
While Zimbabweans are the largest single group of foreigners in South Africa, they are by no means the only ones.
There are also no accurate estimates on the number of undocumented or illegal immigrants living in South Africa.