During the last few years, the influx of Zimbabweans looking for opportunities in South Africa has risen dramatically. Economic unrest and lack of resources have seen skilled and unskilled Zimbabweans look to ply their trade or improve their skills south of the border.
To give you an idea of the impact, the South African Department of Home Affairs estimates that over 180,000 Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa have applied for official documentation to allow them to stay, work, study and conduct businesses legally in the country.
The scale of this admin has naturally caused a backlog and now in reaction, the Department of Home Affairs has announced that it has completed the adjudication and printing of 178,172 applications for the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP). This is according to the words from their spokesman Thabo Makgola.
ZEP helps thousands of Zimbabweans currently in South Africa
What does this mean for Zimbabweans in South Africa?
The opening of applications for the ZEP was announced in September 2017 following the expiry of the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP). The ZEP was introduced to regularise the study of Zimbabweans living in South Africa for the purpose of work, study or operation of a legal business.
The rollout of ZEP
Since the new roll out of the 180,000 applications mentioned earlier, 108,485 permits were processed and had been collected. While 39,089 were in the process of being collected or sent to the various collection offices
The department has also urged 1,932 applicants who had expired passports to contact the Zimbabwean consulate, as their application could not be processed.
While this may be a relief for many, it still denies Zimbabweans permanent residency in South Africa. The department said it had met with the Zimbabwean Consulate which had undertaken to expedite the passport applications of those who did apply.
The ZEP came into effect in January 2018, and it will expire in December 2021.
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