Zim special permits: SA minister Gigaba says don’t rush me. South African Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday said, at the appropriate moment, he will announce the fate of almost 200 000 Zimbabweans residing and working in the country on the basis of the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP), which expires this year.
“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,” he told reporters at a media briefing in Pretoria.
“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.”
Gigaba, however, said he had been urging holders of the ZSP to apply for mainstream permits, 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 precedent 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.”
Gigaba said he needed to apply his mind on the matter without being put under pressure.
“I need to be allowed to exercise my mind fully on the matter, without being put under pressure. I’m quite considerate of the anxieties of the individuals concerned and their families,” he said.
His Zimbabwean counterpart, Ignatius Chombo, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Under the special dispensation granted by Pretoria in 2014, Zimbabweans, who had previously being granted permits under the Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project, were allowed to re-register for the three-year ZSP.
Zimbabweans have been flocking to South Africa following widespread political violence in the wake of disputed presidential elections and a rundown economy.