South Africa allays permit fears

THE South African government has urged Zimbabweans who acquired permits through a 2009 special dispensation to renew the documents as they are about to expire.

Annahstacia Ndlovu

Pretoria had indicated that it was tightening the permit system after Cabinet approved new measures, a signal that unsettled many Zimbabweans living in South Africa.

But in an interview at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela said there was no reason to panic.

“The Zimbabwe Documentation Project was an experiment meant to save government money and also explore if business and the economy would improve in the process,” he said.

“So far, it has proven to be very successful and government is happy with the first phase of the programme.

“I can assure you that the programme will not only see permits being renewed, but will also be extended beyond those who got the first permits.”

Mavimbela said for one to be able to renew a permit, they should have a clean record and be able to provide proof of employment, study or business.

“The plan is to give an extra year to those who already had permits, while new applicants will be thoroughly screened this time and required to satisfy some requirements that are still being set by government,” he said.

Mavimbela said some of the requirements were that people should prove that they were employed under the category of “critical skills” or have their employers come forward to vouch for them.

He said new work and business permits would be valid for four years, in line with new government policy on migration, while study permits would be valid for the duration of the course.


Mavimbela said permit holders would be granted South African citizenship after five years.

He said the special dispensation had created business opportunities for South Africans that Pretoria did not want to disrupt.

“Most South African business sectors, like insurance and banking, have, since the launch of the programme, designed programmes specifically targeting Zimbabweans and would not like to lose them,” he said.

“Talks are going on between the two governments on how to roll out the second phase in a manner that will benefit both countries.”

The Zimbabwe Documentation Project was launched in 2010 to give Zimbabwe nationals the opportunity to regularise their stay in South Africa by applying for work or study permits.

The project offered an alternative to Zimbabweans trying to legalise their continued stay in South Africa, other than turning to the country’s chaotic and oversubscribed asylum system.

During the permit application period, a moratorium on deportations of undocumented Zimbabweans was in place.

This moratorium was lifted when the deadline for applications ended.
Only an estimated 230 000 Zimbabweans applied for permits, which is said to be a fraction of locals living in that country.

Some estimate Zimbabweans living in South Africa, most of them illegally, at three million.

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40 Comments

  1. vele we are here to stay..asiyindawo

  2. I think this is diplomatic rhetoric. It is taking a good 3 to 6 months to have ones permit renewed whilst you are on a non-ZSDP (Zimbabwe Special Dispension Project) permit, what guarantee is there that these ZSDP permit will be renewed and be done so on time. I waited for 26 months to get my permanent residence which i got in October 2013 and since then the I.D book is not yet out its been a full six months and according to their standards the I.D should take 3 months.

    In Zimbabwe it takes a day to get your I.D … I am not sure about the immigrants who apply for permits in Zimbabwe but i am made to believe that it does not take time. Compared to South Africa, Zimbabwe is quite efficient in processing I.Ds, passports and permits though Zimbabwe is manualised you dont hear of application documents disappearing as what happens in South Africa with all its automated and so called efficient home affairs systems.

    Currently in Sunnyside, Pretoria an operation to deport Zimbabwean with expired ZSDP permits has already started … lets see whether Vusi Mavimbela is telling us the truth

    1. The first permits came out in November after the program started in Oct 2010.

  3. Vele vele asiyindawo. SA is our home sweet home

  4. abraham zhoumadzinga

    waaal it reall shows that govenments have got pple in their hearts.

  5. wow,thanks to s.a gvnt wwe will definately benefit as well

  6. ANC yakangwara mazimba anemaPermits akatovhota zvavo zvaita

    1. thats not true u cannot vote with a work permit one need to have a green book to vote

  7. We might as well join our lucky friends down south as working in our country does not guarantee one a salary.

  8. What ambassador did not mention is where will the people re-new their permits? In South Africa or in Zimbabwe? The ambassador also said the application will be screened critically. This all does not mean they have eased the process. As I see it, the SA embassy is now prepared to work on this program right.

  9. Even kungela permit kuyahlaleka mani asethuki thina sizosebenza abanye betshayaitoyitoyi

  10. Read between the lines. The critical part is where will these permits be renewed. South Africa or one has to visit SA’s embassy in Zim? And they will be critically screening these applications. There is nothing in this article that suggest it has been eased.

  11. I want to ask, what about those who applied the permits and did not receive them. A they going to start applying like its first time to apply or they gonna have another simple way to get the permits. thank u

    1. Use your reference number to get your permit.

  12. Correction! After 5 years the SA govt will grant permanent residence and not citizenship as stated by Newsday in the article! Citizenship can only be granted after 10 years if conditions are fulfilled!

  13. VIVA ANC, U GOT PPLE AT HEART. Musholozi ndinozviziva ndiwe wadaro. Vote ANC, ndivo amai wedu.

  14. That’s a relief to most people for sure. Most employers would have been affected by the termination of work permits. Take for example the hospitality industry which, banks, health and education sectors which have greatly benefited from the Zim brain drain.

    More so, a lot banks would have been affected and would also experience huge withdrawals as people cannot risk keeping their money in banks with no valid permit. Thanks to the SA gvt.

  15. What’s the difference between Permanent Residence and Citizenship? Nothing…Some people njere hapana.

    1. the difference btween permanent and citizensship is the difference between a diploma and a graduates

      1. Jonathan4President

        Oliver if you’ve PR you only qualify for the ID and not passport, therefore your rights and/or privileges will be limited other than those of a citizen. You will still be a foreigner!

    2. the difference is with a permanent residence you are not allowed to participate in politics or vote but with citizen that becomes a right.

      Citizenship entitles one to social grant where as permanent res you do not have that. I am a permanent resident isn South Africa but I do not have a right to vote

    3. The difference is the same as yourself and someone better than you!

    4. PR no voting rights , citizenship =voting rights

  16. Jonathan-4-President

    Oliver if you’ve PR you only qualify for the ID and not passport, therefore your rights and/or privileges will be limited other than those of a citizen. You will still be a foreigner!

  17. mutape-Chipinge

    ini ndinoda zvangu kagreen book kaya

  18. Saka Oliver, garazviya ndiani asina njere?

  19. An oliver yu don knoe thr is a big dif btween PR an Citizenshp iwe ndiwe usina njere manje

    1. Mazezuru ukuhumana.

  20. You can vote if you have a Citizenship, but you can not vote if you have Permanet Res,
    You must denounce your zim citizenship after 10years if you want to be a full south African

  21. Why would i want to vote in south Africa while i have my beutyfull Zimbabwe wake up guys itai zvamakafambira makatiza kuvota ku Zimbabwe mavekudakuuya kuzovota kuno tsvagai mari mudzokere kumusha

  22. Haiwawo ngavangotipa tubhuku utwo zvipere ah…mxm

  23. musholozi hiyaaaaaaaaa musholozi iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

  24. wat about those who does not have and they want to apply wat shud we do to own a permit

  25. Thanks Jay-zee..but i wish you could deliver to some of my Rsa friends and workmates,who say they won’t vote..I know you can get to them so that they will vote..I know they love their ANC

  26. Sbane somhlaba

    mwari ndiye anozviva

  27. The permits may be renewed BUT sources at home affairs say South Africa can’t afford to issue 300 000 permanent resident permits in 5 years so they are going to make sure these permits will be renewed at least after expiry so that no one will have 5 years continuous stay in order to qualify for permanent residency. Once it expires you start counting from 1 again!

  28. Thank you SA.Thank you Mr president J G

  29. thats gud news to my ears at least we will still be able ylto achieve our goals

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