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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Home Affairs extends ZEP deadline again due to ‘significant developments’

Motsoaledi has approved waiver applications of the affected Zimbabwean nationals.

The Department of Home Affairs has extended the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits deadline by six months to 31 December 2023.

The extension comes after Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s announcement in September last year, which stipulated the validity of the ZEPs would expire on 30 June 2023.

At the time, Motsoaledi said the decision was taken to give the ZEP holders an opportunity to apply for one or other visas provided for in the Immigration Act, which they may qualify for.

He also said there would be no further extension granted.

ALSO READ: Home Affairs extends Zimbabwean Exemption Permits to June 2023

However, on Wednesday, the department said it had extended the deadline again to 31 December 2023.

“Since that time, significant developments took place,” it said.

Increase in visa applications

Motsoaledi has approved waiver applications of the affected Zimbabwean nationals, which has resulted in a significant increase in the number of visa and waiver applications.

“The Departmental Advisory Committee (DAC), led by Dr Cassius Lubisi, is now dealing with the increased number of visa applications. The minister is equally considering and approving waiver applications on a daily basis,” said the department.

The department has been receiving between 1 000 and 1 500 visa and waiver applications of the affected Zimbabwean nationals daily.

“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 (DHA) and other interested parties, and decided to issue another Immigration Directive, extending the validity of Zimbabwean exemption permits for a further period of 6 months, ending on 31 December 2023,” said the department.

The minister will be addressing a letter to International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, requesting her to issue a note verbale to the Zimbabwean ambassador, informing him of the directive.

UN assisting SA process ZEP holders

Speaking to Newsroom Afrika, Motsoaledi said the government was working with the UN to process the ZEP applications.

“They’ve helped us with money and we’ve hired people to help, even Treasury has given us extra money to hire more people,” said Motsoaledi at the time.

He further slammed claims that all ZEP holders would not qualify for any other visa.

“Who said they don’t qualify? How do they know they don’t qualify? If you know that you don’t qualify to be in a country, why do you stay? They can’t force me to work outside the law, this country is not run on feelings of people, it is run by the law. We’ve got the Constitution which must be respected by all.”

NOW READ: Motsoaledi: If you know you don’t qualify to be in a country, why stay?