ZIMBABWEANS based in neighbouring South Africa in possession of the expired Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP) permits will not be deported or arrested for being illegal immigrants in that country until the new Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSP) dispensation has been completed, a South African government official said yesterday.
In August, South Africa announced the introduction of the ZSP from October 1 that allows Zimbabwean holders to work, conduct business or study in South Africa for three years, until the end of December 2017, replacing the discontinued Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP) permit.
The move ended months of speculation and anxiety among many permit-holders, following reports that the country was introducing tough measures for immigrants.
Yesterday South African Home Affairs director-general, Mkuseli Apleni told a local daily that Zimbabwean holders of expired DZP permits will not be deported.
"Zimbabwean nationals travelling on expired DZP permits will not be deported or declared undesirable at our ports of entry, or arrested for being illegal if they are found in South Africa for being in possession of those expired permits until we've completed the ZPS," said Apleni.
He did not elaborate on the timeframe, when the deportation of those with expired permits will not be deported.
Apleni, however, said the position was not the same for those who failed to acquire permits in 2010.
"We want to make it clear that those who failed to acquire permits under that DPZ in 2010 face deportation and this is in line with our new immigration regulations," he said.
About 242,000 Zimbabweans who benefited in 2010 under the DPZ programme are eligible to apply for work and study permits under the ZSP programme. The ZSP will be valid for three years.
According to reports, about 40,000 applications have so far been processed under the ZSP.