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Zimbabweans in dilemma over SA permits

Source: Southern Times, 08/10/2018

The Zimbabwe Embassy is engaging South Africa`s Home Affairs department to ensure that all those eligible for permits in that country access them by end of this month, the embassy`s consular-general, Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro has said. Zimbabwe and South Africa have a special agreement under the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) that allows Zimbabweans to work in the country. More than 169 000 ZEP beneficiaries are still being processed after the South African government announced a renewal of the permits last year. Mukonoweshuro urged Zimbabweans residing in South Africa to be patient as they were protocols to be observed before the issuance of permits. “The process of issuing out a permit is not instant, it is long. There is a lot of verification that takes place before the permit is issued. The greatest challenge we have been facing so far is that a large number of people have expired passports. At one point we had 1000 people with expired passports and they were told to address that first before they can be issued with passports. “The process also includes the verification of each and every individual who applied for a permit to ensure they do not have any criminal record. With the high number of people who applied, the process is bound to take long,” he said. “The ambassador and myself are going to be meeting with the South African Home Affairs Department to discuss this issue and hopefully by end of this month the process of issuing out permits will be concluded,” he said. The delay in issuing out permits has reportedly left a large number of Zimbabweans, especially teachers, stranded as they cannot conduct any work in the country without permits. The objectives of the permits are to regularise 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. The deputy South African Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Linda Maso, said in as far as they were concerned the process of permits was going on smoothly. “From what l know, the process is going on well because other people have been issued with permits already. I think the delay will be related to the volume of applications that were received. The process takes long so we hope that all those who applied will be addressed as soon as possible,” he said. The Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP) was introduced in 2014. The ZSP allowed permit holders to live, work, conduct business and study in South Africa, for the duration of the permit, which was valid until 31 December, 2017. A large number of citizens from across the region were given an opportunity to legally contribute to the national and regional development of South Africa and SADC. Over the years, many citizens from various parts of the region have relocated to South Africa for numerous reasons, chief among them to seek employment. South Africa has the second largest economy in Africa and it remains one of the most important trading partners for most countries on the continent. According to the Embassy of South Africa, there are requirements that one needs to meet before acquiring a permit and a visa to visit, study or work in the country. “A visitor`s visa which is for international travellers (citizens of other countries) is issued to people who wish to visit the country on a temporary basis for tourism or business purposes for a period of 90 days or less. “The visa simply indicates that your application has been reviewed at a South African embassy, mission or consulate and that the consular officer has determined you are eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose,” says the embassy. Visas are issued for a fee that is payable in different currencies in different countries. The South African government issues out visas to foreigners who seek to visit their family or friends and also for tourism purposes. A visa can be issued for a spouse to join a spouse who is in South Africa on a work or study visa and for one to join parents who are in South Africa on work or study visas. Visas can also be issued for study purposes, charitable or voluntary activities, research, conferences, to work in the production of a movie or show, for medical purposes and sport events. For one to acquire a visa, they require a passport or travel document valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of their intended visit. “Your passport must have at least one unused page for entry. A completed Form BI-84 (application for a visa), payment of the prescribed fee, statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit, two colour passport photographs,” says the South African Embassy. The country offers 12 types of temporary residence visas - the work visa, the general work visa, business visa, critical skills visa and intra-company transfer visa. There is the corporate visa, study visa, exchange visa, retired person’s visa, relative’s visa and medical treatment visa. The work visa requires one to apply and submit a duly completed application form signed by the applicant, a passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of intended visit, and a police clearance.


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