South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has announced details of the new Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP).
Outlining the particulars of the ZSP the Minister said this marked the beginning of a new phase, as the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project (DZP) will officially be closed on 31 December 2014.
Under the DZP, Zimbabwean nationals, who were in the country illegally, were granted an opportunity to legalise their stay. The special dispensation was introduced in 2009 to regulate the stay of Zimbabweans working illegally in South Africa as a result of the political and socio-economic situation in their country.
About 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-fulfilment of other requirements. Since then, the Department of Home Affairs developed a proposal with regard to the new ZSP and it was accepted by Cabinet on 6 August this year.
At the briefing on Tuesday, Minister Gigaba said Zimbabweans in possession of the DZP permits are eligible to apply for the new ZSP. However, this is only if they wish to extend their stay in South Africa. He said certain conditions must be fulfilled.
“These include, but are not limited to; a valid Zimbabwean passport; evidence of employment, business or accredited study and a clear criminal record,” Minister Gigaba said.
The ZSP will allow permit-holders to live, work, conduct business and study in South Africa for the duration of the permit, valid until 31 December 2017. Applications for ZSP permits will open on 1 October 2014, and close on 31 December 2014.
Minister Gigaba explained that applications will be managed by VFS Global, a worldwide outsourcing and technology services specialist for diplomatic missions and governments. However, applications will be adjudicated by the Department of Home Affairs.
VFS will open four new offices in provinces where it is anticipated that there will be large numbers of applicants. These are Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.The new offices will be in addition to the 11 already opened, all of which will deal with ZSP applications.
Minister Gigaba said ZSP permit-holders who wish to stay in South Africa after the expiry of their ZSP should return to Zimbabwe to apply for mainstream visas and permits under the Immigration Act.
“We appreciate the many contributions made by Zimbabweans in our society and economy. They have made notable contributions in our education and health sectors, for example as teachers, health professionals and in many other sectors. We welcome Zimbabwe’s return to stability and prosperity, and remain committed to partnership with our valued neighbour,” he added. SA News