Thousands of holders of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) are living in uncertainty because the South African government has not yet indicated whether it will renew their permits. About 180,000 Zimbabweans hold ZEPs. The four-year permit expires on 31 December 2021.
Some Zimbabweans said their banks had already warned them to renew their permits or face closure of their accounts in December.
The permits were first issued in 2010 under the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (ZDP). The programme was renewed in 2014 as the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP), before the ZEP was introduced in 2017.
A Zimbabwean, who we will only identify as Matthew, said he can’t make plans for the future. He is a supervisor at a restaurant and lives in New Brighton with his wife and two children. He has been living in South Africa for 20 years.
Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Advocate Gabriel Shumba said he is receiving an unprecedented number of enquiries from concerned permit holders.
“It is an issue that seriously affects thousands of Zimbabweans, especially with some banks threatening to close accounts.”