New project helps legalise Zimbabweans

refugees_seeking_workpermitsCape Town - Olivia, who owns a hair salon in Cape Town's city centre, is just one of thousands of Zimbabweans applying for work, business and study permits through a new four-month long project by the Department of Home Affairs to help regularise Zimbabweans living in South Africa.

The woman, who came to South Africa so she could help feed her two children she left behind in Zimbabwe, is applying for a business permit offered through the department’s Zimbabwe Dispensation Project, which runs from 20 September to 31December. She hopes a permit might provide her and her business with more protection.

Through the special dispensation, Zimbabweans can apply for study, work and business permits through Home Affairs offices as well as four offices of the Zimbabwe High Commission.

Visiting the home affairs office in Wynberg to check on the progress of applications, the department’s Deputy Minister, Malusi Gigaba, said up until last week the department had received 33 117 applications for permits.

Gigaba said this number was likely to increase as many Zimbabweans were still waiting for Zimbabwean passports they had applied for or were getting the necessary letters of employment from employers or papers from municipalities they needed to apply for business permits.

It is hoped that the dispensation will produce more accurate statistics of the number of Zimbabweans in the country, he said. The last figures, by the Wits Forced Migration Project, estimated there were 1.5 million Zimbabweans in South Africa.

Gigaba said the department had helped to capacitate four offices of the Zimbabwe High Commission in Cape Town, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Pretoria, to offer the permits.

He said the long lines outside Home Affairs offices were encouraging as they showed that Zimbabweans were flocking to the offices to take advantage of the permits.

Those Zimbabweans who already have asylum status and are applying for permits must renounce their asylum status in order to take advantage of the permits. The period also offers amnesty to those Zimbabweans who obtained refugee status fraudulently.

“I just hope that today we are going to make it,” said Shepherd, a Zimbabwean from Harare, who had spent the whole day in a queue but had not received assistance yet.

He has been staying in South Africa for three years and works as a car mechanic. Both he and a fellow Zimbabwean in the queue with him were applying for a work permit.

Blessing, another Zimbabwean from Harare, said he had arrived in South Africa two years ago on a six-month visa, but was now applying for a work permit. He works as a technician installing DTSV dishes for home owners.

Post published in: Politics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *