Zimbabweans in South Africa are being urged not to ‘panic’ over changes to work permit laws set to come into force later this year, with a leading refugee rights group saying it will engage the authorities on the way forward.
By Alex Bell, as published by our partner SW Radio
Concern has been high among many Zimbabwean nationals across the South African border, after South Africa’s cabinet resolved that work permits granted under the Special Dispensation period will expire this November. Part of that resolution is a requirement that new permits can be applied for, but only back in Zimbabwe.
The Special Dispensation period was introduced in 2010 to give those Zimbabweans working illegally in South Africa at the time a chance to regularise their stay. An estimated two million Zimbabweans are thought to have fled the political crisis back home for the relative security of South Africa, choosing to live illegally across the border.
Under the dispensation period, over 250,000 Zimbabwean nationals were granted four year work and study permits. The authorities also suspended the mass deportations of Zimbabwean nationals, that they had been undertaking until the dispensation was announced.
The deportations of illegal Zimbabweans have since resumed, and the news of the authorities toughening up its permit laws has sparked real fears of a return to the chaos experienced before.
One SW Radio Africa listener said by email that “it is not a good idea” to leave South Africa without a guarantee of being allowed back. He added: “You don’t even know whether you’re gonna get [permits] or not, or when. What about our jobs, accommodation, instalments and credits; or do you have to resign?”
Read the full story on SW Radio