ZIMBABWE’S consulate in South Africa has advised locals with pending Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) applications in the neighbouring country to apply for new passports to have their permits processed.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
South Africa’s Home Affairs department has set October 31, 2018 as the deadline for processing of all pending ZEP applications.
ZEP allows Zimbabweans to stay in SA for a maximum of four years.
According to the consulate, the number of Zimbabweans with expired passports and with pending ZEP applications is over 1 000.
“The Department of Home Affairs of South Africa (DHA) has informed us that it wants to finalise the processing of all pending ZEP by October 31. The process, however, cannot be finalised because the Zimbabwean passports with the pending applications have expired.
“All Zimbabweans with pending ZEP applications at the DHA are, therefore, advised to apply for new passports and submit them to [Visa and Permit Facilitation Centres] VHS,” the Zimbabwe consulate office said.
“Adherence to the above is very important because the Department of Home Affairs South Africa has indicated that should applicants fail to submit to them new passports before the end of October 2018, the pending ZEP applications will be rejected.”
Only people with valid Zimbabwean Special Permits (ZSP) issued in 2014 are eligible for the ZEP — a permit for documented Zimbabweans in the neighbouring country to avoid deportation.
Zimbabweans were issued with the renewable permits to legalise their stay in South Africa under the Zimbabwe Documentation Project.
SA has been introducing a raft of strict measures to regulate foreigners’ stay in that country.
Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals who overstay in South Africa are now banned from entering the neighbouring country for a period ranging between one and five years.
Over-stayers were all along allowed to re-enter South Africa and apply for permits and visas after paying fines.
First and second-time offenders who overstay for less than 30 days are banned for one and two years respectively, while those that overstay for a period exceeding 30 days are banned for five years.