South Africa News

Zimbabweans living in South Africa fear the worst as ZEP expiry date gets closer

The expiry of the Zimbabwean exemption permit (ZEP) is fast approaching and many whose stay in South Africa is heavily reliant on that document have spoken of their anxiety and fear of the worst.

In November, the government announced the decision to discontinue the permit by December this year, after its initial introduction in 2009.

That means that Zimbabweans will have to legitimize through other forms of residency authorization.

But many have told the publication that this process is an administrative nightmare and they do not think that they will meet the December deadline.

The Helen Suzman Foundation is approaching the courts to challenge the abolishment of the ZEP certificate.

“Zimbabwe at the moment is not an option. Those people in Zimbabwe are really crying and we are the ones helping them at the moment and if we go to Zim, who’s going to be helping us and the people that are there at the moment? Things are bad.”

This woman, who did not want to be named out of fear of victimization, sits in her office at a Johannesburg pre-school where she has been a teacher and principal for 13 years.

She said that she had worked to legitimize her stay in South Africa since she arrived in 2008, having initially been in possession of the Zimbabwean special permit before the current exemption permit.

But she said that since she started the application process for a work permit in January, very little progress has been made.

The process is proving to be a little complicated for her as her skill is not listed on the country’s critical skills list.

“This process is like from scratch. You have to first advertise the position to South Africans. If you cannot find South Africans that fit the position, then you able to take the foreigners that you have employed,” she said.

If her employer can prove that after running interviews, there are no eligible South Africans to do the job, only then will this woman be granted a waiver by the Labour Department.

But that process is likely to take months and time is not on their side.

The Home Affairs Department said that it was processing over 3,000 waiver applications by Zimbabweans.


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Shauwn Mkhize

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