South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says his department is ready to roll out the new Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) designed to regularize their status in the country.
Speaking Thursday in Pretoria, Minister Gibaba, said South Africa is ready to handle applications and implement the project for 245,000 permit holders of the previous program implemented in 2009.
Gigaba said the department and the Visa Facilitation Services have completed all necessary preparations to process prospective applications for the ZSP.
“We, along with our application processing partner VFS, have completed all the necessary preparations to process all prospective applications for the ZSP,” said Gigaba.
The minister said there will be 10 application centers and 120 staff members to deal directly with ZSP permits. And as initially planned from October 1st, Zimbabweans must apply online before being called for interviews at application centers.
“From the first of October people must start applying via the website and must not go to the VFS application centers. They will apply online via the website and then get an invitation for interviews, which will then be the time when they are expected to present themselves.”
The 10 application centers include four new centers in the provinces of Gauteng (Midrand), Western Cape (Cape Town), Limpopo (Polokwane) and Kwazulu-Natal (Durban). The remaining six centers are in George, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Nelspruit and Rustenburg.
Applications for the ZSP will cost Zimbabweans 870 Rands, which the Ministry of Home Affairs says is in line with similar visas and permit charges.
Zimbabweans seeking to regularize their stay should apply on the www.vfsglobal.com/zsp/southafrica website from October 1st. Interviews are expected from November 1st to April 30th, 2015.
Zimbabweans reapplying for permits will be given a reference number and a supporting confirmation email of application while they await their interview.
Applicants are required to have a valid Zimbabwean passport; evidence of employment, business or accredited study; and a clear criminal record. Applications close on December 31st, 2014, the same day permits issued four years ago will expire.
Minister Gibaba emphasized that the Department of Immigration will monitor all concerns about computer literacy and internet access, but added he is confident internet access for all those applying would be sufficient.
He further noted that it will also be working with stakeholders to publicize and assist Zimbabweans on the application process.