Zimbabweans based in South Africa who are holders of special permits have approached that country’s government seeking a waiver of some of the requirements for obtaining regular permits.

Chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZCSA), Ngqabutho Mabhena, said that they have engaged South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs seeking that some requirements to obtain other permits be set aside.

ZCSA is representing about 180 000 Zimbabwean nationals who hold special permits called Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP), which will expire at the end of this month.

South Africa recently announced that it will not renew special permits that have been in place for over a decade and directed the holders to apply for other permits appropriate to their particular status or situation.

Mabhena said the requirements to be met by applicants to obtain other permits were too stringent and the South African government should remove some of them otherwise the majority of special permit holders will be forced to return home. Said Mabhena

We have written to the Director-General in the Department of Home Affairs seeking that some requirements to obtain other permits be waivered.

For example, we have some professions such as teachers, journalists among others who are not listed under critical skills but are working in South Africa.

We are seeking that people who hold such professions may be allowed to apply for general working visas so that they may continue working.

If a person is getting married to a South African or someone who has permanent residence, they obtain a spousal visa.

When applying for a spousal visa your partner should be earning a minimum of R8 500.

For one to qualify for a business visa in South Africa, they should bring in R5 million into the country as an investment.

ZEP holders owning businesses who had accumulated assets worth more than R5 million would not qualify for the business visa since they generated the assets in South Africa. Mabhena wants the requirement to be amended as well. He said:

In our view, only a few will qualify to move to other permits because the majority of Zimbabwe Exemption Permits are people of low skill like domestic workers and drivers, among others.

Most people don’t possess the required qualified qualifications as per critical skills visa.

If some of these requirements are not waivered then scores of people will return home after failing to secure other permits.

South Africa has given ZEP holders 12 months to migrate to other permits, which suit their situation.

After, that those who do not have permits would be expected to leave the country or they will be deported.