Home Affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba has finalised plans to announce changes in SA’s position in the Zimbabwe special permits (ZSPs).
According to a report by The Sunday Times, the Home Affairs minister will by month end, announce a change in the ZSPs which gives Zimbabweans a direct access into South African without Visa.
The announcement by the minister would according to the report, indicate that SA would not be renewing or extending its permit for Zimbabweans.
This follows earlier confirmation by home affairs media liaison officer Thabo Mokgola who noted that “the Minister has made it clear that there would not be an extension of the ZSPs.”
The Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSPs) were first introduced in October 2014, as a three year permit that would allow Zimbabwean nationals living in the country to legally work, own a businesses and study in South Africa, despite not carrying a valid visa.
By ending the ZSP programme, Zimbabwean nationals (who are not currently in the country legally) will no longer be allowed entrance into South Africa until they meet the necessary requirements for regular study, work or business visa.
Those already living in SA would also need to leave and apply for these visas back in Zimbabwe.
Gigaba had announced last month that a new hard-line stance on foreigners will be taken which would specifically target businesses who hire undocumented workers, saying that they will be found out and charged.
This decision by the Home Affairs department was sparked off by violent attacks on foreigners in South Africa which has escalated in the recent months.
The most recent of it all was the violence by Turffontein residents in southern Johannesburg who accused foreigners of involving in the hijacking of houses which they say are turned into drug dens and brothels.
The protesting Turffontein residents marched out in their numbers declared themselves as non-xenophobic but would however not allow non-citizens to desecrate their land with their illegal drug stores.
Prior to this time, report by Immigration Southafrica has it that the country has issued a deportation warning on Zimbabwean residents in SA who failed to acquire permits under the 2010 Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project (DZP).
The country’s Home Affairs director-general Mr Mkuseli Apleni yesterday said the imminent move to deport Zimbabweans was in line with the new immigration regulations.
SA has a list of about 242 000 Zimbabweans who benefited in 2010 under that programme and they are eligible to apply for work and study permits under the new Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSPs) programme.
“The rest are illegal immigrants and we’re saying there is no reason why they (undocumented Zimbabweans) should remain in the country because our law is very clear.
“Any foreigner found in our country without a proper permit or travel document is an illegal immigrant and will be deported forthwith and this does not only apply to Zimbabweans, but all foreign nationalities,” says Home Affair’s Mkuseli Apleni.
This move by SA could be interpreted to mean that at least 50 000 Zimbabweans with pending applications under the DPZ would be affected, together with thousands of illegal immigrants resident in different provinces there.