South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi has extended the validity of the Zimbabwe special permits by another six months.
The permits were set to expire at the end of this year, leaving thousands of Zimbabweans in the country with no choice but to return home or face being in the country illegally.
Civil society organisations, including the Helen Suzman Foundation, had turned to the courts to reverse the minister’s decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP).
Motsoaledi has since appointed a Departmental Advisory Committee to assess the visa applications by affected by Zimbabweans.
The committee was led by Director-General, Dr Cassius Lubisi.
In a statement released on Friday, the department says Motosaledi received a report from the committee which stated that he should consider extending the validity period for the permits.
“The Minister has carefully considered the request and decided to extend the period by a further six months, that is, 31 December 2022 to 30 June 2023,” they say.
“Another factor considered by the Minister is that few Zimbabwe nationals have thus far applied for visas or waivers. To this end, the Minister has issued another directive,” reads the statement.
The department says the minister remains committed to affording affected Zimbabweans nationals another opportunity to apply for visas or waivers.
However, there will be no further extension.
“The department calls upon all the affected Zimbabwe nationals to make use of this window of opportunity and not wait for the last moment to lodge their applications as is the case now.”