The South African government has announced a six-month extension of the validity of Zimbabwean exemption permits.
This decision comes after the South African government initially indicated in November 2021 that no further concessions would be made for Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders.
At that time, holders of the ZEP were given a grace period up to June 30, 2023 to either migrate to other mainstream permits or return to their home country.
Currently, there are over 170,000 Zimbabweans residing in South Africa under this special permit.
In a statement, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Dr. Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi, declared that during this extension period, no arrests would be made against valid exemption permit holders.
“I, Dr. PA Motsoaledi, MP, Minister of Home Affairs, utilizing the powers bestowed upon me by sections 31(2)(b) and 31(2)(d) of the Immigration Act, have decided to extend the validity of Zimbabwean exemption permits issued to Zimbabwean nationals for an additional six months. This extension aims to allow the holders of these permits to apply for other visas and waivers as provided for in the Immigration Act (read with Immigration Regulations, 2014) that they may qualify for. I hereby direct that this decision be implemented as follows, during the further six-month period commencing from June 30, 2023, and ending on December 31, 2023,” said Motsoaledi.
He said during the extension period, no valid exemption permit holder should be subjected to arrest, deportation, or detention based solely on the absence of a valid exemption certificate.
“The holder of a valid exemption permit may enter into or depart from the Republic of South Africa in accordance with section 9 of the Act, in conjunction with the Immigration Regulations, 2014, provided that all other requirements for entry into and departure from the Republic are met, except for the reason of possessing an expired exemption permit indicated in their passport. Furthermore, no exemption holder should be obligated to present a valid exemption certificate/permit or an authorization letter as specified in section 32(2) of the Immigration Act when applying for any category of visas, including temporary residence visas,” he said.
The Zimbabwe government has implemented measures to facilitate the smooth return of affected citizens.
Returnees will benefit from a free import rebate, which includes the shipping of one vehicle owned on the date of their arrival in Zimbabwe.