Visa deadline looms for Zimbabweans in South Africa. Should they fail with a court challenge to secure their continuous stay in South Africa, thousands of Zimbabwean nationals could be forced to leave the country. Many don’t want to return home and start all over again.
Almost 200,000 Zimbabweans living in South Africa are waiting with bated breath to hear a court decision on whether they can continue to stay in the country or will be forced to return home.
Those whose Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) have been terminated now only have 30 days before the June 30 deadline for them to leave South Africa expires.
But how did this dilemma occur in the first place? South Africa granted ‘special dispensation’ permits at first
In 2009, the South African government granted “special dispensation” permits for Zimbabwean nationals who were in the country illegally.
This policy was meant to regularize the status of thousands who had fled political and economic instability in Zimbabwe, mainly between 2007 and 2009. The special dispensation status was in place until November 2021 — when South Africa’s Cabinet decided to cancel it altogether.
Zimbabweans living in South Africa with a special dispensation permit were given a 12-month grace period to either apply for a mainstream visa or leave the country.
Their only hope now is a legal challenge filed at a Pretoria high court last month by lawyers for the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association.