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ZEP permits all to be issued by the end of September 2018

Speaking at a media briefing on the uptake of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) the Director General of the South African Department of Home Affairs Mkuseli Apleni said he expects all ZEP permits to have been issued by the end of September 2018. The ZEP which will be valid for four years till 31st December 2021 will replace the ZSP which started in 2014 and expires on the 31st December 2017.

Only ZSP permit holders can apply for the ZEP, and so far 169 078 out of a total of 197 941 ZSP holders have completed their applications online. Of those that have completed their online applications 135 913 have scheduled their appointments while a total of 72 612 people have submitted their applications so far at the VFS offices countrywide.

To accommodate everyone with ease the Home Affairs department has extended the submission of supporting documents till 31 January 2018, but people should be aware that the 30th of November 2017 remains the deadline for online applications. ZSP holders are therefore urged to not only complete their online applications but make the necessary payment and schedule appoints by 30 November 2017.

The Director General urged all Zimbabwean nationals who qualify to apply for mainstream permits issued under the South African immigration laws. There is no requirement for ZSP holders who want to cross over to mainstream permits to leave the country to apply. The DG did however intimate that the current mainstream permits by their nature of requiring a certain set of skills and education from people who want to apply for are elitist. The DG said there is a proposed permit that will be introduced soon to cater for lower level workers in South Africa from the SADC region.

On concerns that banks will freeze people's accounts after the expiry of the ZEP permits the DG said they are in constant communication with banks and people have no need to worry on that front. People would also be able to travel during the festive season using their passports and the proof of application receipt they got from VFS. Employers were also urged not to dismiss any workers with pending permits.

Velempini Ndlovu is a photojournalist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He can be contacted on 0768297234 or veapndlovu@gmail.com

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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