- The South African government has granted Zimbabweans the authority to obtain permits to stay legally in the country for the next six months, the Department of Home Affairs has said in a statement. The permit gives migrants the right to work and get healthcare and education in SA.
Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Malusi Gigaba, said the government has taken an important decision which acknowledges that migration patterns between South Africa and Zimbabwe have changed permanently.
“Zimbabweans will need to apply for the permit at Home Affairs and provide proof of their nationality. If they do not have official identification, they will go through testing,” home affairs official said.
An official said the permits would reduce the numbers claiming political asylum, which means they are not allowed to return home. "Most Zimbabweans are not asylum-seekers, they are economic migrants. So what they want to do is to come into the country do some work and go back home and take money back," the immigration official said.
Mr Gigaba said police would not be allowed to arrest Zimbabweans who have the special dispensation permits, but proof of the permit would be needed. "Just because you say you are [a Zimbabwean national] doesn't mean they can't arrest you," Mr Gigaba explained.
Although there are sign of economic improvement in Zimbabwe since the formation of the unity government in February this year, the immigration official said the Zimbabwe situation will be reviewed after six months.
The officials said the special dispensation is expected to lessen the pressures the large numbers of Zimbabwean migrants have created in the country.
In May 2008 there were widespread attacks on foreigners living in South Africa including Zimbabweans which left more than 60 people dead and forced 100,000 from their homes.
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