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Deadline Extension Offers Relief to Zimbabwean Nationals in South Africa

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Reprieve for thousands of Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa as their legal stay has been extended. The South African authorities have granted a temporary extension to the work permits of tens of thousands of Zimbabweans, alleviating the immediate threat of deportation.

The deadline for these individuals, who hold the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit issued in 2010, has been extended until the end of December this year. This extension allows them additional time to apply for other visas and waivers that would enable them to continue working in South Africa.

Deadline Extension Offers Relief to Zimbabwean Nationals in South Africa

The political and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe in 2008 prompted a significant influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa, with many residing there either undocumented or with work permits.

However, acquiring work visas has been challenging for many due to various factors, including glitches in the online application system, administrative delays, backlogs in visa processing, and changes in the country’s scarce skills list.

Zimbabwe continues to face economic difficulties, resulting in high unemployment rates, soaring food prices, and a depreciating currency.

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Recognizing the hardships faced by Zimbabweans in South Africa, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced the extension, stating that the department has been receiving a substantial number of daily applications from Zimbabweans seeking to extend their stay.

During the extension period, holders of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit will not be subject to arrest, deportation, or detention for not possessing a valid exemption certificate.

Deadline Extension Offers Relief to Zimbabwean Nationals in South Africa

Civil society groups had taken the South African government to court, advocating for an extension to the deadline and more time for applicants to obtain the necessary legal documents.

Nicholas Mabhena, Chairman of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, welcomed the extension and emphasized the importance of utilizing this time to transition to mainstream work permits.

The extended deadline provides a temporary reprieve for thousands of Zimbabwean nationals, allowing them to continue their employment in South Africa while pursuing the necessary legal avenues to secure their long-term status.

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