Zimbabwe Exemption Permit will not be for new applicants

New permit is valid until end of 2021

Photo of a permit

The Zimbabwean Special Permits will be replaced by the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit.

By Tariro Washinyira

8 September 2017

On Friday, Minister of Home Affairs Hlengiwe Mkhize announced in Pretoria that the new Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP), which is valid until 31 December 2021, is only open to current Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) holders.

Many undocumented Zimbabweans who are working in South Africa had hoped that the ZSP programme would be extended to new applicants when the Minister announced the conditions for the ZEP.

The initial permit of this kind was approved in April 2009 to document Zimbabwean nationals who were in South Africa illegally. The current ZSP expires on 31 December 2017. On 1 August 2017, Cabinet gave the green light to the Department of Home Affairs to open a reapplication process for current ZSP holders under certain conditions.

Chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena said, “We want to extend our gratitude to the Minister and the South African government for allowing us to remain in South Africa for the next four years. We would have wished that the Minister would have considered the many undocumented Zimbabweans who are working in South Africa. We hope the Minister will at some point attend to this request.”

“We call on all the holders of the Zimbabwe Special Permit to apply in time for the ZEP,” he said.

Implementation of the ZEP

The ZEP application process will begin online on 15 September 2017 through the VFS website. The deadline for application submissions is 30 November 2017. Administrative fees are R1,090 per application. Applicants will be allocated appointments for the required submission of fingerprints and supporting documents to VFS offices from 1 October 2017. Applicants need to submit a valid Zimbabwean passport, evidence of employment in the case of a work permit, evidence of business in the case of an application for a business permit, and evidence of admission letter from a recognised learning institution in the case of a study permit.

In her media statement, Mkhize said that the condition of the ZEP entitles the holder to work, study and or conduct business, but does not entitle the holder to the right to apply for permanent residence irrespective of the period of stay in South Africa. It will not be renewable or extendable and does not allow a holder to change the conditions of his or her permit while in South Africa.

A ZSP applicant will be allowed to travel using the ZEP receipt and the expired ZSP permit until such time as the ZEP permit is issued without being declared undesirable.

The minister also said, “We believe that migrants play an important role in respect of economic development and enriching social and cultural life.”

ZSP holders may apply for the ZEP in various provinces. Below are the places and addresses: