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South Africa Launches Special Exemption Program for Zimbabweans

  • Gibbs Dube

FILE - Zimbabweans fill out application forms outside Immigration offices in Johannesburg.

The South African government has extended a special program granting about 200,000 Zimbabweans permission to live, work and study in the country for four years.

Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize announced today that the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP), formerly known as Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP), will only cater for holders of special permits launched a couple of years ago.

The ZEP begins next week with current ZSP holders expected to submit applications online before November 30, 2017.

Mkhize said, "An administrative fee of R1,090 will be charged. ZEP permits will be issued for a maximum period of four (4) years, effective from 02 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2021, notwithstanding the date of application."

Applicants are supposed to submit a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment (in the case of an application for work rights), evidence of business (in the case of an application for business rights) and evidence of a letter of admission from a recognized learning institution (in the case of an application for study rights).

Applications will be submitted online through the VFS website www.vfsglobal.com?ZEP/SouthAfrica/com

Mkhize said, “Thereafter applicants will be allocated appointments for the required submission of fingerprints and supporting documents to VFS, from 01 October 2017.”

Reacting to the government’s move, Ngqabutho Mabhena of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, said, “The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa welcomes the statement by the South African Minister of Home Affairs Hon Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize.

“We would have wished that the Minister would have considered the many undocumented Zimbabweans who are working in South Africa. We hope the Minister will at some point attend to this request. We call on all the holders of the Zimbabwe Special Permit to apply in time for the ZEP within the set times.”

Thousands of Zimbabweans are living illegally in South Africa due to serious social, economic and political problems back home.

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