Will the Zimbabwe Special Permit be Renewed?

Zimbabwean immigrants face an uncertain future as the South African Government fails to come clear on the renewal of the special permits which are expiring in six months.

Women queuing outside the refugee reception office in Cape Town. (Photo Credit: IRIN )

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has told holders of the Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) not to panic, but to await the decision by the department on the extension of their permits, due to expire on 31 December 2017.

This comes amid growing concern among Zimbabweans and civil society organisations such as the Scalabrini Centre and PASSOP (People Against Suffering Oppression Poverty).

“We believe that it is important for the DHA to give clear instructions to the over 200,000 people concerned. A renewal process can take several months to prepare for and complete, and those on the ZSP should be given at least six months to understand clearly what their options are and to make plans accordingly,” said Mirande Madikane, director of the Scalabrini Centre in Cape Town.

On Monday (5 June), the Scalabrini advocacy team sent a letter to both the Minister and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs requesting the department to issue a clear statement on the renewal of the ZSP.

Tendai Bhiza of PASSOP agreed. “I think ZSP holders should be fairly and equally treated. PASSOP is appealing to the department to consider the [ZSP] holders for a permanent residence as a long term solution,” said Bhiza.

Spokesperson for the Department, Thabo Mokgola, said, “Home Affairs will be making an announcement on the ZSP in due course. Currently, there is a cabinet process underway on the matter.”

However, when asked in December last year, Mokgola told GroundUp the Minister had made it clear that there would not be an extension on ZSP.

The Zimbabwe Special Permit is the successor of the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project implemented in 2010 allowing Zimbabweans to stay, work and study in South Africa.