ZEP SAGA: Mnangagwa’s govt reveals what Zimbos returning from South Africa can take home duty-free

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President ED Mnangagwa

ZIMBABWEANS returning from South Africa are exempted from paying duty on one vehicle and all personal belongings as Government prepares for the influx of nationals ahead of the expiry of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) next year.

This was said yesterday by Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa during a post-Cabinet briefing in Harare. About 178 000 Zimbabweans are under the ZEP, which lapsed on 31 December 2021.

The South African government then issued a 12-month grace period to December 2022 for ZEP holders to either apply for another type of permit or leave the country.

In September this year, the SA Government extended the permit to June 2023, because, according to the Department of Home Affairs, only about 6 000 permit holders had approached the department seeking a waiver.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet received and adopted a report on the anticipated return of Zimbabweans from South Africa presented by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Frederick Shava.

She said when Zimbabweans return, they will be allowed to enter the country with one car and unlimited personal goods duty-free.

“The Zimbabwe Government has issued guidelines and regulations to returning residents which is one duty-free vehicle, and no limit to personal property. Government has also engaged the South African Government, emphasising that Zimbabwe is ready to receive its returning nationals who should comply with the relevant South African laws,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She said Cabinet agreed to establish an interim committee to prepare for the returning residents.

“The committee will be supported by subcommittees with the following functional areas: transport and logistics, security, documentation, reintegration support, resource mobilisation, information and publicity as well as health and education,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She said the mass deportation of undocumented Zimbabweans was expected from South Africa following the expiry of the ZEP which South Africa had granted them.

“The sister Republic of South Africa had initially given the ZEP holders a grace period of 31st December 2022, to apply for alternative visas. Later they extended the ZEP validity to 30 June 2023. The alternative visas include students, spousal and work permits. However, most ZEP holders do not qualify for the outside critical skills permits hence the low uptake,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Meanwhile, Cabinet approved the establishment of the Human-Wildlife Conflict Relief Fund for victims in Zimbabwe.

As a result of its successful conservation programmes, the country’s increasing human and wildlife populations have led to competition for limited resources between humans and animals. Minister Mutsvangwa said in 1980, Zimbabwe had an elephant population of approximately 50 000, while the human population was 7.4 million. In the year 2022, the Zimstats population census estimated the number of people to have more than doubled to about 16 million.

The elephant population meanwhile, is now estimated at more than 85 000, with other species also showing significant growth.

She said the consequent competition for limited resources often results in wildlife attacks on humans, especially in communal areas and towns that are close to national parks, safaris, forests and other protected areas.

This year alone, by August 2022, 46 Zimbabweans had died due to human-wildlife conflict.

“Accordingly, Cabinet adopted the establishment of a relief fund to cushion the victims of human-wildlife conflict by way of funeral assistance and an amount paid towards hospitalisation and treatment with a set limit.

“The payments will cover three categories, namely: death, maiming, and injuries. A specialised human-wildlife conflict unit will be established under Zimparks.

“The Fund is based on a self-financing model where proceeds from hunting and other crowd funding activities will be mobilised to resource the Fund,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“These sources include reserving a hunting quota under the CITES granted quota, a levy on hunting revenue accruing to safari operators, Rural District Councils and conservancy owners.

“The financing sources also include, among others, the following: (i) a percentage of wildlife commodities or products that are approved and monitored by Zimparks; (ii) crowding conservancies to contribute financially towards human wildlife conflict through donor support programmes; (iii) CAMPFIRE proceeds; and (iv)donations from the public, including funds from foundations set for wildlife conservation.”

— Chronicle


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