Home Affairs extends ZEP programme validity to December 2023

The Department of Home Affairs has granted an extension to the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) validity, allowing thousands of Zimbabweans to continue residing in South Africa until December 31.

The decision comes after an overwhelming response from Zimbabweans seeking the necessary permits to remain in the country, following the initial announcement in 2022 that the ZEP programme would come to an end in June 2023.

The department said the extension was deemed necessary due to significant developments that have taken place since the initial directive was issued in September 2022.

“As you are aware, the Minister of Home Affairs [Dr Aaron Motsoaledi] issued a directive in September 2022 extending the validity of exemption permits issued to Zimbabwean nationals to 30 June 2023. Since that time, significant developments took place, said the department in a statement.

“The minister has approved thousands of waiver applications of the affected Zimbabwean nationals. This has resulted in a significant increase in the number of visa and waiver applications.

“The departmental advisory committee, led by Dr Cassius Lubisi, is now dealing with the increased number of visa applications.”

To effectively manage the surge in applications, the department said Motsoaledi has deployed additional officials to assist in the processing of visa and waiver applications.

“The minister is equally considering and approving waiver applications on a daily basis. Unlike before, since May/beginning of June 2023, VFS Global is now receiving between 1 000-1 500 visa and waiver applications of the affected Zimbabwean nationals daily.

“For these reasons, the director-general has deployed more officials to assist in the processing of the applications.

“The minister took into consideration the said factors, including [to a certain extent] submissions received from the affected Zimbabwean nationals, relevant officials of the Department of Home Affairs and other interested parties, and decided to issue another immigration directive extending the validity of Zimbabwean exemption permits for a further period of six months, ending on 31 December 2023.”

The extension ensures that no holder of a valid ZEP will face arrest, deportation, or detention related to the absence of a valid exemption certificate.

Zimbabweans residing in South Africa are encouraged to take advantage of the extension period to ensure their legal status remains valid and avoid unnecessary complications that may arise from non-compliance.


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