The South African government instists that Zimbabweans, who obtained four-year permits under the Zimbabwe Documentation Programme implemented in 2009, will be required to go back home and apply for their renewal while in Zimbabwe.
Deputy Home Affairs Minister Fatima Chohan told a press conference in Pretoria on Wednesday that all people who were in South Africa illegally and were awarded permits in 2009, are expected to leave the country when their documents expire.
Chohan, who refused to answer questions after making the announcement, said a cabinet meeting last week made this resolution which requires each applicant to reapply for permits at designated points while in countries of their origin.
Permit seekers say this is not workable as going back home is out of question due to serious economic hardships in Zimbabwe.
Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor is next Tuesday expected to elaborate on how the process of dealing with Zimbabweans whose expiring permits issued under the special dispensation for Zimbabweans project will unfold.
Pandor was said to be in Texas, United States of America, on an official visit.
Acting Pretoria cabinet spokesperson, Phumla Williams, said cabinet resolved that Zimbabweans who complied with the relaxed work permit requirements and who were given work permits under the special dispensation would be allowed to reapply in their country of origin.
The programme allowed Zimbabweans to stay in South Africa under relaxed conditions and provided them with work, study or business permits and suspended their deportation.
According to Pretoria, permits issued during the initial 2009 dispensation will expire November 14th this year.
Communications officer Daniel Muzenda of the Zimbabwe Migrants Association said his members are anxious to hear what happens next in their bid to stay in South Africa.
South Africa’s immigration system is governed by the Immigration Act of 2002 and its subsidiary legislation. An alien who is not a permanent resident in South Africa may be admitted to the country only if he or she is issued a valid temporary residence permit.
South Africa has 13 different temporary permit classes: visitor’s permit; study permit; treaty permit; business permit; crew permit; medical treatment permit; relative’s permit; work permit; retired person’s permit; corporate permit; exchange permit; asylum transit permit; and cross-border and transit permit.
The immigration law mandates that all illegal foreigners be deported. It is an offence for employers to hire an illegal foreigner, for an educational institution to register an illegal foreigner for classes, for banking and other institutions to provide an illegal foreigner with certain services, and for private citizens to have any dealings with an illegal foreigner other than providing humanitarian assistance.
Certain illegal foreigners may apply for status adjustment.