Harare Welcomes Returnees as Exemption Permits Expire in South Africa

Zimbabwe Minister Says Harare Ready to Welcome its Citizens as Permits Expire in SA (News Central TV)

According to Frederick Shava, Zimbabwe’s minister of foreign affairs and international trade, the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is prepared to receive its people who have resided in South Africa under Zimbabwe Exemption Permits back home (ZEP).

“The Zimbabwe Exemption Permit will expire at the end of this year. Its expiry is naturally causing much anxiety to the holders of this permit,” Shava said in his opening remarks while co-chairing the mid-term review of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) with International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor.

“Our two governments must work closely in the implementation of this decision. We are ready to receive our nationals back home,” he said.

Thizwilondi Rejoice Mabudafhasi, the South African ambassador to Zimbabwe, and David Hamadziripi, the Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa, were also present at the high-level meeting together with other senior officials from the two countries.

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The South African government declared that it will not extend the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP), which expired on December 31, 2021, leaving a large number of Zimbabweans living there in limbo.

A 12-month grace period was offered to the over 200 000 permit holders so they may regularize their stay with another type of authorization.

Pandor informed Shava that Pretoria is appreciative of Zimbabwe’s assistance in halting the issue of illegal immigration.

“Dear Minister (Shava), I’m sure you are aware that effective management of immigration has been an ongoing challenge for our government.

“We’ve recently established a border management agency and we hope it will vastly reduce illegal migration and improve efficiency. I must thank you and your government for the support you have given us in this endeavour,” she said.

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Pandor said the review meeting gives the two neighbouring countries an opportunity to “reboot and reset our programmes, to better respond to the challenges that have emanated” from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I am pleased to recall that despite the constraints of the pandemic, total trade between South Africa increased from a quantum of R38billion in 2020 to R47.5bn in 2021. I trust that our delegations will align our planning to enhance this positive development and I note in the figures that the surplus lies with South Africa, and we would like to see greater benefit to Zimbabwe’s economic sectors as well.

“Of course, our cooperation and partnership is not only limited to bilateral relations. We also share common values on regional, continental and global governance issues of mutual interest,” she said.

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Pandor also thanked Zimbabwe for helping South Africa while it was a member of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation.

Following the passing of the nation’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo, Mnangagwa named Shava, a seasoned diplomat, to lead the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last year.

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