- Zimbabweans in South Africa have been notified that the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit will not be extended
- From 31 December, 2021, current permit holders will have a 12-month grace period to apply for an alternative visa or face deportation
- Many South Africans support the government's decision because they feel that citizens need to be prioritised
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JOHANNESBURG - The South African government has announced that the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) will be discontinued from 31 December 2021.
Current holders of this permit in South Africa will have a 12-month grace period to apply for a different visa type. If they do not gain a new visa within that period they will be deported.
This decision has left the 180 000 ZEP holders in South Africa anxious about their futures as many do not qualify for any of the other visa types offered, Times Live reports.
Options for Zimbabweans in SA
Zimbabweans who planned on travelling from South Africa to Zimbabwe over the festive period have been discouraged from doing so as they may not be able to return due to intelligibility for alternative visas.
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The South African government has been criticised for notifying Zimbabweans so close to the expiration date as it leaves many with very few options to make other plans, particularly those who are employed, have children in South African schools and/or are pursuing tertiary education.
According to Daily Maverick, Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, in 2019 promised that the exemptions would be renewed for Zimbabweans, Basotho and Angolans. However, the permits can only be extended by the Cabinet and are out of the minister's jurisdiction.
Reactions to ZEP decision
"I think the best thing to do is to verify the legitimacy of all the permits."
"It's sad that Zimbabweans had to leave their homes in the first place. But they knew this was a temporary arrangement - all temporary arrangements do come to n end at some point. I wish my Zimbabwean friends all the best trying to navigate this but it's time to go home."
"It is the right decision. SA has its own problems and besides, those eligible for genuine permits must apply and be judged on the merits. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the decision."
"Why is it so difficult for them to go home?"
"The only viable option for most will be general work permit and we all know that those rarely ever get issued anymore. Most of those people are about to become undocumented with bonds, various line of credit and contracts that require you to be documented."
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Zimbabwe: Unstable economy and debt crisis
Briefly News previously reported that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that Zimbabwe's longstanding debt and unstable economy make the country an unlikely recipient of any further financial support.
"The IMF is precluded from providing financial support to Zimbabwe due to an unsustainable debt and official external arrears," reads a statement by the fund.
The IMF would only be open to negotiating a financial agreement with Zimbabwe if the country clears its outstanding debt and gains a clear credit score.
Source: Briefly News