We’ll welcome you back home, minister tells ZEP holders

ZIMBABWE’s Foreign Affairs minister Fredrick Shava says government is ready to welcome fellow citizens who fail to meet requirements to obtain South African permits to remain in that country.

Shava’s remarks follow an announcement by Pretoria not to renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs) beyond December.

ZEP holders are expected to regularise their stay under new tougher conditions which have been largely seen as a deliberate ploy to cut the number of foreign immigrants in that country.

“We do not have figures yet as to how many Zimbabweans who responded to the request by South Africa but we expect them to have taken concrete steps to make sure they comply with the requirements of the permits since they are aware of the time limits,” Shava said in his address at the mid-term review meeting of the third session of the Zimbabwe – South Africa bi-national commission in Pretoria today.

“As for us in Zimbabwe, these are our nationals, those who fail to meet ZEP requirements by South Africa are welcome back home. We will receive them and assist them to get to their desired destination.

 “I would like to reiterate our appeal to Zimbabweans in South Africa to observe and respect the laws of South Africa. We condemn all and any form of criminality on the part of our nationals in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.”

There are an estimated 200 000 ZEP permit holders.

The permits were first introduced in 2009 by then Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamni-Zuma for the documentation of qualifying Zimbabweans for a 5-year period.

The permit was called the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Permit (DZP).

It was extended in 2014 and renamed the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP). In 2017, came the ZEP which will expire in December.

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