By Staff Reporter
In a recent announcement, the South African government has granted a six-month extension to the validity of Zimbabwean exemption permits.
This decision comes after the government’s initial stance in November 2021, indicating no further concessions for Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders.
Initially, ZEP holders were given until June 30, 2023, to either transition to other mainstream permits or return to Zimbabwe.
Currently, there are more than 170,000 Zimbabwean nationals residing in South Africa under this special permit.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Dr. Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi, stated in a statement that no arrests would be made against valid exemption permit holders during this extension period.
“I, Dr. PA Motsoaledi, MP, Minister of Home Affairs, utilizing the powers bestowed upon me by sections 31(2)(b) and 31(2)(d) of the Immigration Act, have decided to extend the validity of Zimbabwean exemption permits issued to Zimbabwean nationals for an additional six months. This extension aims to allow the holders of these permits to apply for other visas and waivers as provided for in the Immigration Act (read with Immigration Regulations, 2014) that they may qualify for. I hereby direct that this decision be implemented as follows, during the further six-month period commencing from June 30, 2023, and ending on December 31, 2023,” said Motsoaledi.
He further emphasized that no valid exemption permit holder should face arrest, deportation, or detention solely due to the absence of a valid exemption certificate during the extension period.
“The holder of a valid exemption permit may enter into or depart from the Republic of South Africa in accordance with section 9 of the Act, in conjunction with the Immigration Regulations, 2014, provided that all other requirements for entry into and departure from the Republic are met, except for the reason of possessing an expired exemption permit indicated in their passport. Furthermore, no exemption holder should be obligated to present a valid exemption certificate/permit or an authorization letter as specified in section 32(2) of the Immigration Act when applying for any category of visas, including temporary residence visas,” he added.
The Zimbabwean government has implemented measures to facilitate the smooth return of affected citizens.
Returnees will benefit from a free import rebate, which covers the shipping of one vehicle owned on the date of their arrival in Zimbabwe.