STATEMENT BY THE HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER ON THE NEW ZIMBABWE PERMIT DISPENSATION (ZSP)
In April 2009, the Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa approved the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project – or ‘DZP’ – allowing Zimbabwean holders of this special permit to work, conduct business and study in South Africa.
The objectives then were to:
- Regularize Zimbabweans residing in South Africa illegally
- Curb the deportation of Zimbabweans who were in SA illegally
- Reduce pressure on the asylum seeker and refugee regime, and
- Provide amnesty to Zimbabweans who obtained SA documents fraudulently
This was a significant gesture of support and solidarity with our neighboring country of Zimbabwe in response to the large number of Zimbabweans residing illegally in South Africa due to political and economic instability there.
Approximately 295 000 Zimbabweans applied for the permit.
Just over 245 000 permits were issued, with the balance being denied due to lack of passports or non-fulfillment of other requirements.
These permits begin expiring on 31 December 2014.The approaching expiry date has caused anxiety for many permit-holders, particularly those who are not ready to return to Zimbabwe, as they contemplate their next steps.The Department of Home Affairs has been considering this matter for some time.I recently met with my Zimbabwean counterpart, Minister Kembo Mohadi, to discuss matters of mutual concern, including the imminent expiry of the DZP.While we note the ongoing political and economic recovery in Zimbabwe, consistently supported by the South African government, we are aware that it will take time for her to fully stabilize.
As you will know, the Department of Home Affairs is mandated to manage immigration effectively, to promote our country’s development, enhance its security, and fulfill its international obligations.
Our management of immigration is also informed by our foreign policy, one feature of which is Pan-Africanism.
South Africa recognizes itself as an integral part of the African continent and therefore understands its national interest as being intrinsically linked to Africa’s stability, unity, and prosperity.
Finally, we are committed to manage immigration in a way which treats all visitors humanely, in an efficient manner and according to our own deeply-embedded human rights ethos.
We are appreciative of the many contributions made by Zimbabweans in our society and economy.
Zimbabweans have made notable contributions in our education and health sectors for example as teachers and health professionals, and in many other sectors.
In general, we appreciate the contribution of the immigrants in our country in terms of enhancing our social, cultural and economic life.We are aware that Zimbabwe will need this rich human capital to further advance its own development, but accept that for the time being, many DZP permit-holders would prefer to continue their stay in South Africa.
It is in this context, that in recent weeks I have taken note of this anxiety and promised to outline a way forward, after consultation with Cabinet.The Department of Home Affairs developed a proposal, refined in recent months, which was accepted by Cabinet on 6 August 2014.Section 31(2) of the Immigration Act states that: “upon application, the Minister may under terms and conditions determined by him:- grant a foreigner or a category of foreigners the rights of permanent residence for a specified or unspecified period when special circumstances exist which would justify such a decision. Provided that the Minister may
- exclude one or more identified foreigners from such categories,
- or with good cause, withdraw such rights from a foreigner or category of foreigners.”
The Act further empowers the Minister to: “for good cause, withdraw an exemption granted by him or her in terms of this section.Accordingly, I announce today, the closure of the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project, as of 31 December, 2014.As a result, it is important to note that the expiry date of all DZP permits which expire before 31 December 2014 is accordingly delayed until 31 December 2014. The expiry date of those DZP permits which expire after December 2014, is being brought forward to 31 December 2014.
Furthermore, I hereby announce the creation of the new Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit of 2014, or to use the acronym, the ‘ZSP’.All relevant and available details are outlined in the media packs accompanying this announcement, but I will give an overview of the most important details.
DZP permit-holders who wish to remain in South Africa after the expiry of their permits, can reapply for the ZSP, subject to certain conditions.These conditions include, but are not limited to: a valid Zimbabwean passport; evidence of employment, business or accredited study; and a clear criminal record.The ZSP will allow permit-holders to live, work, conduct business and study in South Africa, for the duration of the permit, which is valid until 31 December, 2017.
Applications will open on 01 October 2014, and close on 31 December 2014. Applications will be managed by our partner VFS, and adjudicated by the Department of Home Affairs. VFS will open four new offices in provinces where we anticipate large numbers of applicants, namely Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.These are in addition to the eleven offices already open, all of which will deal with ZSP applications.
In line with the new, improved process for all visa and permit applications, applications will begin online, with appointments given for in-person finalization at a visa facilitation center.Therefore there will be no queues as experienced in the past, and we trust applicants will enjoy a pleasant and efficient application experience. An administration fee will apply, which we will communicated once it has been decided, after the completion of discussions between the Department and VFS.
ZSP permit-holders who wish to stay in South Africa after the expiry of the ZSP, must return to Zimbabwe to apply for mainstream visas and permits under the Immigration Act, subject to the relevant requirements.These applications will be considered within 12 months of the expiry of the ZSP permits, so from January 2017.We will now embark on an extensive stakeholder engagement process, to inform DZP permit-holders and other interested parties about the ZSP process.We will continue the productive engagement we enjoyed with stakeholder formations during the DZP process four years ago, but of course are open to work with new stakeholders which may have emerged since then.
The Department of Home Affairs, on behalf of the government and people of South Africa welcomes visitors from Zimbabwe, SADC, Africa and the rest of the world.We welcome Zimbabwe’s return to a path of stability and prosperity, and remain committed to cooperation and partnership with our valued neighbor.
The ZSP is a temporary bridge to the near future when all Zimbabweans will reenter the mainstream immigration process in South Africa.
I thank you.