At least 180,000 Zimbabweans legally staying and working in South Africa face deportation following the eventual expiry of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) on December 31, 2022.
Unless these permit holders have managed to get another work permit, for which few qualify, they can be deported after the given date. Earlier this year, the Department of Home Affairs said it would not renew these permits.
Ngqabutho Mabhena, chairman of the Zimbabwean Community in South Africa, said many ZEP holders were in lower skilled jobs which would make getting a waiver near unfeasible.
An immigration lawyer Lorraine Kapungu of Kapungu Attorneys explained how to apply for a general work permit. She said an applicant has to get a certificate from the Department of Labour confirming that “despite a diligent search, the prospective employer has been unable to find a suitable South African citizen or permanent resident with requisite qualifications or skills and experience equivalent to those of the applicant”.
In a May 13 notice, Home Affairs encouraged ZEP holders to apply for waivers and permits. Director General Livhuwani Tommy Makhode wrote: “The Department of Home Affairs has thus far received few applications. Home Affairs calls upon all affected Zimbabwean nationals to apply for one or other visas through VFS Global without further delay. It is of utmost importance that all the affected Zimbabwean nationals lodge their applications in order to regularise and to continue to [stay] lawfully in the Republic before the deadline of 31 December 2022.”
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