Zimbabwe to repatriate thousands of its nationals following cancellation of special permits

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Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Frederick Shava says his country is working on logistics to take back citizens whose special permits will be expiring end of this year.

This follows the South African government’s decision to discontinue the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).

The special permits will expire at the end of this year and thousands of Zimbabweans without valid visas are expected to go back to their native country.

Minister Shava and SA International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor held a mid-term review Bi-national Commission meeting in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Zimbabwean foreign affairs minister leads delegation in Pretoria

Shava says they are more than ready to welcome home Zimbabweans who can’t regularise their stay in South Africa. He adds that this has been a source of anxiety for some Zimbabweans who benefited from the Zimbabwean Special Permit.

“This has been on the cards for some time since the South African government pronounced the end of ZEP permits. Zimbabweans are also aware of a time limit. Those who fail to meet the requirements of South Africa are welcome back home. We will be working on the modalities and the logistics of receiving them when they come.”

Zimbabwean foreign affairs and international trade Minister further explains, “The ZEP will expire at the end of this year. Its expiry is naturally causing much anxiety to the holders of this permit. Our governments must work closely in the implementation of this decision. We are ready to receive our nationals back home. At the same time I’d like to reiterate our appeal to Zimbabweans in SA to observe and respect the laws of SA.”

Minister Pandor says South Africa is quite happy that Harare has urged those who are eligible to apply.

“I think we agreed. Really appreciate that the government of Zimbabwe has said those who have been invited to apply for a visa in South Africa should do so as it has been requested by the government of South Africa. So we are glad the Zimbabwean government is clear and encourage ZEP holders to regularise their stay and time is running out.”

Total trade between the two neighbours has grown exponentially. It’s increased from R38 billion in 2020 to R45,7 billion in 2021.

“As you know we collaborate in a number of areas like trade, investment, immigration, defense, security and education, conservation and agriculture, I am so thrilled that the memorandum of understanding on basic education is at a high level,” says Pandor.

Zimbabwe and South Africa remain members of the African Union Peace and Security Council and they have vowed to work together in the maintenance of peace and security.