Zimbabweans working, studying or running businesses in South Africa are required to have the permits and from the end of next month those without a permit or a regular visa will be deported.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told reporters this week that the bulk of remaining work for the dispatch of outstanding certificates was administrative. Almost 210,000 applications were received before the 31 December cut-off date. He said DHA had rejected 12,228, or 6.2%, of the applications and approved 185,075, or 93.8%.
The special permit was intended to ease the considerable pressure on the asylum system and general visa system. It followed the 2009 issuance of 245,000 special permits, which allowed Zimbabweans already in South Africa who did not have visas to stay and work.
Illegal immigrants do not qualify for the permits, although there are continued estimates of thousands of undocumented economic migrants flooding across the Limpopo from Zimbabwe. Following violence-tainted elections in 2008, hyperinflation and land grabs that all but ended foreign investment, Zimbabwe plunged into an economic recession that has pushed unemployment beyond 90%.
The South African Department of Home Affairs says it has adjudicated 99.7% of the applications for special permits by Zimbabweans ahead of a collection deadline of the end of September.