By Staff Reporter
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi has revealed that there have been no formal requests by Zimbabweans facing deportation from South Africa when their permits expire in June.
South Africa has advised 180,000 Zimbabweans who were on a special work permit, known as the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), to apply for other visas, warning that the ZEP will not be renewed beyond June 30 after a six-month extension announced last December.
Hamadziripi announced in February that the embassy would begin registering affected Zimbabwean citizens who would be provided with transport and waivers to take their possessions to Zimbabwe without paying customs duties.
Speaking to journalists, Hamadziripi confirmed that despite calls for registration there has not been an takers.
“Most of them want the facilitation to return, either at the end of May or in the course of June. So, presently there are no [formal requests], there is no facilitation because there have been no such requests,” Hamadziripi said
Thousands of Zimbabweans migrated to South Africa in search of better opportunities due to economic woes in the country of their birth.
The exemption permit system was introduced in 2009 under the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project, which allowed some 250,000 Zimbabweans unlawfully in South Africa to regularise their status, allowing them to live, work and study in South Africa.
This scheme was extended and renamed the Zimbabwean Special Permit in 2014 and the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit in 2017.
In 2021, Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi announced that the ZEP system would not be renewed, though two temporary extensions were granted, most recently until 30 June 2023.