The South African government has not yet indicated whether it will renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits which lapse in December. Archive photo: Home Affairs offices in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth, by Joseph Chirume

Harare’s top diplomat in Pretoria, David Hamadziripi, Zimbabwean migrants worsened an already tense situation by dragging President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration to court over special work permit renewals.

Hamadziripi said there had been diplomatic manoeuvres to end the uncertainties, and a decision would be announced by the South African government.

The special permits were last renewed in 2017, and are due to expire at the end of this year making the future of about 250 000 Zimbabweans on special permits uncertain.

South African nationals recently demonstrated against the extension of the special permits, while Zimbabwean migrants on the special permits took Pretoria to court, pressing the government to declare them permanent residents.

Hamadziripi told the Zimbabwe Independent:

In this case, the current permits expire at the end of next month,” Hamadziripi said. “The process has always been that the South African cabinet decides whether to renew or not. The last time they were renewed was in 2017. Their term is five years. They are due to expire in 2021. The point is that it is a decision that is actually taken by the South African cabinet.

What has infuriated some South Africans is that we have some permit holders who have now gone to the courts asking them to direct the South African government to grant them permanent residency.

Some of these people have been holding them (special permits) for a period long enough for them to qualify for permanent residency. But because they have these special permits, they don’t qualify and cannot be granted permanent residency.

Pretoria has come under fierce criticism from its nationals, who last week tried to force the Ramaphosa administration to change tack.

#NoToZimWorkPermits campaign and #PutSouthAfricansFirst activist and march convenor Tshidiso Rantsa has said the push is to make sure opportunities that were taken by Zimbabweans are returned to South Africans.

Other African nationals also hold the permits.

Hamadziripi said anxiety was building up because of delays by the South African government on the processes for the renewal of the permits.

He added that according to South African immigration laws, these Zimbabweans had stayed in the neighbouring country long enough to acquire permanent residency.

Source – The Independent