SA must also legalise non ZSP holders

SA must also legalise non ZSP holders

by Butholezwe Nyathi

September 14 2017 – MIGRANT Workers’ Association-SA (MWA-SA) is grateful but is not fully satisfied with the decision by the South African government to limit the extension of permits to the holders of Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSPs) only.

Throughout our engagements and interaction with the process since 2010, we have believed that the process of granting permits sought to correct the challenge of documentation of illegal migrants, show magnanimity to suffering African migrants, as well as to manage the huge challenge of migration into South Africa due to challenges like economic pull factors. We were told that the process was starting with Zimbabweans and was going to be rolled out to other nationals. Indeed, we saw it being extended to the people of Lesotho.

Our concern is that there remains a large number of undocumented migrants from Zimbabwe, Lesotho and other countries. There are many people who missed the opportunity to be documented or who arrived after the window had been closed.

There are huge numbers of people who have applied for asylum or refugee papers, or who and continue to use these papers for survival purposes. This has led to the clogging of the South African government’s systems as evidenced by the situation at the Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre in Marabastad, Pretoria. The quality of service to refugees has been badly affected there.

The fact of the matter is that the economic and political factors which pushed migrants to come to South Africa continue to be in play in countries such as Zimbabwe – and illegal or overstaying Zimbabweans will remain in South Africa, with or without permits.

We therefore put it to the South African government and the people of South Africa, being fully conscious of the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality, that there is need to dialogue around the issue of documenting all migrants living in South Africa, in line with the vision of the White Paper on International Migration, fighting crime and African solidarity.

We feel that providing for the ZSP holders for another  four years without offering the same opportunity to undocumented migrants – as well as those who would like to change to the ZSP from asylum or refugee status – is not meeting this crucial challenge faced by SA.

We hope a window of engagement shall be opened soon to address pertinent issues.

The writer is the acting  chairperson of  MWA-SA and can be contacted on  011 074 8022, or 0814956500, You can also WhatsApp  him on 0603119086 or email him at

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