Immigration on agenda as South Africa welcomes Zim’s foreign minister; meeting comes as 200,000 Zimbabweans in limbo as permits expire


PRETORIA: Zimbabwe’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Frederick Shava, is leading his country’s delegation to Pretoria, taking part in the Binational Commission (BNC) Mid-Term Review at the invitation of the Minister for International Relations and the Naledi Pandor Cooperation.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) said Shava and Pandor would co-chair the high-level meeting.

“At the invitation of Dr. Naledi Pandor, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Frederick Shava, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Republic of Zimbabwe will pay an official visit to South Africa to co-chair the Mid-Term Review of the Binational Commission to be held in Pretoria on Wednesday, August 10, 2022,” Dirco said.

“During the visit, the two ministers will also have the opportunity to share information and exchange views on bilateral relations and other issues of mutual interest.”

Shava, a veteran diplomat, was appointed by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to head the foreign ministry last year, following the death of the country’s foreign minister, Sibusiso Moyo.

Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesperson, Livit Mugejo, said the purpose of the mid-term review was to review progress made in the implementation of bilateral programs between the two countries within the framework of the Binational Commission.

“The mid-term review will also serve as a preparatory meeting for the fourth session of the Binational Commission which is expected to be held later this year,” Mugejo said.

“The meeting will provide Ministers with an opportunity to discuss relevant bilateral issues between Zimbabwe and South Africa, including trade relations on migration and proposed dates for the convening of the Bi-National Commission, among others.”

Many Zimbabweans living in South Africa are left in limbo, after the South African government announced it would not extend the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs), which expired on December 31, 2021.

The approximately 200,000 permit holders have benefited from a 12-month grace period to regularize their stay with another category of permit.

In December, in an interview with IOL, Motsoaledi clarified that no reversal had been made of the Cabinet decision which decided that the ZEP would not be renewed for Zimbabweans.

In November, the South African government announced that holders of the special permit had 12 months to apply for other permits “appropriate to their particular status or circumstances” under South Africa’s traditional visa regime – if they intend to remain in South Africa after the expiry of the 12 month grace period.

The government has announced that those who fail to pass must leave South Africa or face deportation.