South Africa’s government defended its plan to end special permits that allow more than 178,000 Zimbabweans to live and work in the country and said only a small percentage of them have applied to regularize their stay.
The so-called Zimbabwe Exemption Permits, first granted in 2009, “were never meant to be permanent,” Clayson Monyela, head of public diplomacy at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said Tuesday on his official Twitter account. They are scheduled to expire in December.
So far, the Department of Home Affairs has received 2,301 visa applications and 3,014 visa-waiver applications from Zimbabweans who must change their status in order to continue accessing services including banking and education.
“Where are the rest?” Monyela said. “A special team at DHA is handling the process.”
The Helen Suzman Foundation, an advocacy group, said on June 15 it had filed a lawsuit challenging the decision to rescind the permits, which was taken without public consultation. TimesLive, a Johannesburg-based news website, reported earlier Tuesday that Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi “will vigorously defend the lawful, reasonable and rational decision” to cancel the permits.
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