Re­new per­mits

Finweek English Edition - - IN THE NEWS -

Zim­bab­weans liv­ing in South Africa are rush­ing to re­new their per­mits to stay in the count r y l e g a l l y a mi d mount­ing con­cerns that the process may not be able to ac­com­mo­date all of the 275 000 peo­ple need­ing new pa­pers by the 31 De­cem­ber dead­line.

SA i s a ma­jor dest i na­tion f or Zim­bab­weans look­ing for greener pas­tures. The Zim­bab­wean econ­omy is fac­ing liq­uid­ity con­straints, while com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly re­trench­ing to cut costs.

Fights within the rul­ing Zanu PF party about a suc­ces­sor for Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe have added to in­vestor un­cer­tainty.

“I had come back hop­ing that things were im­prov­ing, but it’s just use­less. Worse is that I now have to go back [to SA] and f ight for the new per­mits. I am des­per­ate and I will use any means nec­es­sary, even if I have to bribe my way, I just have to get the per­mit,” said one Zim­bab­wean man as he queued to have his pass­port re­newed in Harare.

The SA home af­fairs depart­ment said ear­lier t his month t hat more t han 195 0 0 0 Zim­bab­weans had ap­plied to re­main in SA un­der a new ar­range­ment, the Zim­babwe Spe­cial Per­mits dis­pen­sa­tion.

By month-end, a f ur­ther 50 000 are ex­pected to ap­ply. The on­line ap­pli­ca­tion process is ex­pected to close by 31 De­cem­ber, and there are fears that not all the ap­pli­ca­tions will be pro­cessed by then.

Zim­babwe home af­fairs min­is­ter, Kembo Mo­hadi, told Fin­week that t he SA a nd Zi mbab­wean g o v e r n ment s h a d a g r e e d that “ex­pir­ing per­mits will be re­newed”. He said he ex­pected the per­mits of all Zim­bab­weans stay­ing in SA to be re­newed.

“I haven’t seen any rep­re­sen­ta­tion from our peo­ple that the pro­gramme has been re­neged on. We agreed that the 250 000 to 275 000 peo­ple who are cur­rently hold­ers of those will be re­newed in SA, as op­posed to what they had said ear­lier that they were sup­posed to come back home and get that done,” Mo­hadi said.

The per­mits are ex­pected to be valid for three years, which in­di­cates that SA may be in­tend­ing to send more Zim­bab­weans back home in the next few years, de­vel­op­ment ex­perts say.

Economist John Roberts said that while there is no agree­ment on the num­ber of Zim­bab­wean ex­pats in the re­gion, the di­as­pora in SA, Botswana and Namibia plays an ac­tive role in prop­ping up the Zim­bab­wean econ­omy through re­mit­tances.

“Most of the Zim­bab­weans work­ing in SA will try very hard to re-reg­is­ter to get proper per­mits and I am sure SA will try to as­sist. The SA gov­ern­ment is not keen to see the de­par­ture of those Zim­bab­weans set­tled there be­cause they have been con­tribut­ing a great deal to the SA econ­omy for a long time,” said Robert­son.

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