by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – BY extending the validity of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) by six months, the South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has averted an immigration crisis.
Permits of thousands of Zimbabweans were due to expire on December 31, rendering the foreign nationals illegal in the country.
This at a time an unknown number of people from around the world are said to be undocumented in South Africa
With Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis worsening, it was unlikely some Zimbabweans were going to return home soon.
While the extension of the permits appears to have halted a crisis, the issue is far from over as it remains uncertain what measures the South African government would take when the permits eventually expire at the end of June next year.
Home Affairs maintained there would be no extension.
The Department noted that few Zimbabwean holders of ZEP had not applied for waivers or visas.
This follows strict requirements by the host government.
A majority of Zimbabweans do not provide critical skills.
It is reported only 6 000 out of the 178 000 ZEP holders have applied.
Home Affairs encouraged the affected nationals to make use of the extended opportunity to apply.
“The(re) will be no further extension (after June 2023) granted by the Minister (Aaron Motsoaledi),” read statement.
Mass deportations have been proposed but this has previously failed to curb the flocking of Zimbabweans and other migrants to South Africa, which is the largest economy in the region.
There are several millions of of other migrants drawn from Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eswatini, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, who live in South Africa.
Outside the African continent, South Africa is awash with migrants from Asia, mainly Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, among others.
– CAJ News