The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa has started pushing Zimbabweans to take advantage of the South African government’s six-month grace period to apply for mainstream work permits.
Zimbabweans working in low-skilled occupations who are unable to obtain mainstream permits are encouraged to apply for waivers that will allow them to apply for the permits.
This development follows the South African government’s decision to extend the validity of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs), which were set to expire on June 30, 2023, by six months, to December 31, 2023, in order to allow the affected Zimbabwean immigrants to switch to regular visas.
In an interview with CITE, Nicholas Ngqabutho Mabhena, Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, said they welcomed the reprieve but reminded migrants that they must continue seeking the appropriate work permits.
“The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa welcomes this decision and understands that this period must be hastily used by our community to migrate to the mainstream work permits. We are happy that the minister considered input made via the African Diaspora Forum (ADF), which we are an affiliate of among other organisations which may have added input on the state of applications,” he said.
Mabhena stated their organisation has also raised concerns about South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs’ VFS, the visa application centre’s poor website response rates and timeouts, the issue of booking slot unavailability, and the additional premium lounge costs, which impede the ease of applications by Zimbabwean applicants.
“We have thus instituted a survey which seeks to gather more information on the status of waiver applications and problems faced which information will constitute to be used to engage authorities to fill in the survey,” said the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa.
He added that the organisation also emphasised the urgency of making applications and encouraged Zimbabweans to apply for waivers especially those who were of low skill and cannot manage to migrate to mainstream permits without having certain requirements waived.
“We remind them that the waiver letter is not a permit and they still must submit their application for a mainstream permit before the new deadline,” Mabhena stressed.
“We engage the VFS to open the Midrand and or any other ZEP dedicated facility to ease the pressure of booking slots and have asked them to give value to the fee paid by applicants. We have asked them to increase the capacity of their website and attend to the constant errors this site gives applicants, including the very low timeout period while entering among other technical glitches. We hope these engagements bear fruit and help expedite the applications.”