June 21 2017 – AS anxiety over whether or not SA Home Affairs will renew ZSP permits, the hopes of the 250 000 Zimbabweans who are considering permanent residency are gloomy, following reports that about 200 Cape Town Zimbabweans are taking class action to compel Home Affairs to grant them permanent residency.
Cape Town based, Zimbabweans, Stan Passoh and his wife Hamu who left Zimbabwe with a car‚ a few hundred dollars‚ a one-year-old child and his three-year-old sister in 2008 when the country’s economy collapsed and 200 other Zimbabweans and companies they work for are joining Leon Isaacson in a special action to try to get a special exemption from Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize to stay in the country permanently.
Isaacson‚ who is the managing director of Global Migration SA ‚ says the thousands of Zimbabweans, who are working and paying tax may have to uproot their families‚ leave their home and return to a country with few jobs or opportunities.
They cannot apply for permanent residency as a condition of the visa. They have to return to Zimbabwe to apply for a new visa, as their special dispensation visas expire in December after seven years of living legally in South Africa and working‚ they have to return home.
This is despite the fact they have jobs‚ a small business and Passoh’s two children attend middle class Cape Town primary schools. But their seven-year visas are to expire soon so they may be forced to start their lives again.
The Passohs started life in SA with four other families in a crowded house in Delft in the Western Cape.
They wanted their children to have a childhood similar to theirs with “good education and three meals a day” something unattainable in Zimbabwe.
Passoh worked as a cab driver for four years before starting a junk removal business that employs two South Africans. His wife worked as sales person at a local gym‚ where she is now employed in management.
ZSP allowed Zimbabweans‚ many who were already in SA to come forward and legalise their status‚ if they were working or studying here. They were four year-long visas‚ extendable for another three years.
There is “nothing” in Zimbabwe‚ said Passoh‚ who sold his printing business before coming to SA.
He said returning to Zimbabwe to apply for a new visa to remain in South Africa could take months and will mean they will lose their jobs in South Africa.
Says Isaacson: “They are all productive and economically active members of SA society and do not see a future for themselves in Zimbabwe‚ as their families and friends have kept them informed of the situation there.
“This is a private and individual application initiative which will request specific terms including permanent residence‚ as people are tired of living transitory lives. These applicants are all economically active‚ often employing South Africans and law abiding members of South African society. After seven years on short term special permits‚ they have shown that they can contribute to the country.”
He called Zimbabweans to come forward and join the action.
But this special application is proving difficult as their access to the minister has been blocked.
But Isaacson’s company approached the visa service VFS to ask about applying for an exemption to allow them to apply for permanent residency.
They were told it is not possible in a letter seen by The Times.
Isaacson said VFS is a service provider and it does not have authority to speak on behalf of the minister and block special exemption applications.
Home Affairs says VFS is just doing its job. Minister’s spokesperson Mpume Madlala said: “The ZSP‚ special dispensation permit‚ is issued with clear conditions‚ like (1) it doesn’t lead to permanent residence‚ (2) no change of conditions while in RSA.
“The Zimbabweans are fully aware of these conditions because they are stated on the ZSP permit itself and they cannot blame VFS for implementing the conditions as stipulated on their ZSP conditions.”
The impasse has left has left the 200 Zimbabweans who are part of Isaacson’s action unable to approach the minister for an exemption.
The Zimbabweans’ action is now in limbo‚ but Isaacson intends to find a way to make an application to the minister to ask her to allow Zimbabweans who have been working and living here for seven years to stay.
The application is not yet a court action but Isaacson could turn to the courts if unsuccessful.
VFS referred all queries to the Department of Home Affairs. – Timeslive additional reporting www.ZimsInSA.com