South Africa is reviewing the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZPS) to decide the fate of about 200 000 Zimbabwean immigrants whose permits expire in December.
In an interview yesterday, South Africa’s Home Affairs Department spokesperson Mr Mayihlome Tshwete said Minister Malusi Gigaba was applying his mind to the issue.
“The Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba is applying his mind on the matter and has two options whether to renew or not. When he finally makes up his mind, he will announce the final verdict and we will communicate with everyone,” said Mr Tshwete.
South Africa introduced the new Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit in 2014, and permits for about 185 075 people were approved.
A South African website quoted Minister Gigaba as saying he was considering a lot of factors before deciding on the matter.
“When we look at what to do with the ZSP, we will take into consideration all of the factors that are necessary.
I don’t want, right now, to be dragged into the conversation because it has not been properly processed by myself, and it has not been canvassed with my Cabinet colleagues,” Mr Gigaba said.
“We will do that during the course of the year. We are mindful of the fact that people are anxious about the time lapsing. They have established their lives, and some of them have established families.”
Mr Gigaba, however, said he has been urging holders of the ZSP to apply for visas outside the special dispensation.
“The ZSP, by its nature, is a ministerial discretionary permit – that’s why we don’t call it a visa. It’s given to categories of people on the basis of special circumstances.
“It cannot qualify for permanent residence or even naturalisation afterwards. It is offered and it must lapse,” he said.
“Once it lapses, to continue offering temporary permits establishes a precedence of permanence. People can take us to court and say they have been in South Africa on this special permit for many years and they now deserve permanent residence (permits).
“To offer 190 000 (ZSP holders) people at one go would be unprecedented. It’s unheard of. It’s drastic.