THE Government has rolled out the second phase of engaging citizens in South Africa as part of finalising the process of a smooth return of Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders.
The Zimbabwe Embassy will be conducting an outreach programme across South Africa to engage citizens. On Monday, the embassy released a two-week schedule during which officials will hold meeting with ZEP holders in all nine provinces of South Africa.
Zimbabweans living in South Africa under the ZEP are due to return home in June when this facility expires after the neighbouring country opted against renewing their permits in 2021.
Government has committed to assist returnees with a fresh start in the country and is already working on modalities of assisting the citizens coming back home.
The Second Republic has pledged to help the citizens so that they can get home with their possessions and settle well. The special permits were granted to about 180 000 Zimbabweans working, studying and living in South Africa.
A fair number have or are in the process of obtaining other work permits so they can stay, but a lot will have to leave. Addressing thousands of youths during the National Youth Day commemorations in Lupane last month, President Mnangagwa said Government is ready to welcome back Zimbabweans from South Africa.
He recently revealed that Government had partnered with the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) for the technical support in the mass movement of citizens coming from South Africa.
As part of the preparations for the return of ZEP holders, the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa between February 2 and last Friday conducted an online mapping exercise to identify citizens who may require Government assistance as they prepare to return home.
In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe Ambassador to South Africa Ambassador David Hamadziripi said the online mapping exercise has birthed the second phase of physical meetings with ZEP holders.
“We have issued another notice because from next week we are starting the in-person mapping exercise in all the nine provinces,” he said.
Ambassador Hamadziripi said embassy officials are still collating data on the number of citizens who registered online to be assisted in returning back home.
He said during the outreach programmes across the South African provinces, citizens will be assisted in obtaining birth certificates, passport application form processing, and issuance of temporary travel documents.
“The Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe in South Africa wishes to recall its announcement on 2 February 2023 that the Government of Zimbabwe has taken a decision to assist and facilitate the repatriation of its nationals, holders of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs), who voluntarily wish to return home before the expiry of their permits on 30 June 2023,” said Ambassador Hamadziripi.
“In that regard, an in person/physical mapping exercise will be undertaken across all the nine provinces of South Africa from 12 to 31 March 2023, to identify and register ZEP holders and their dependants who may require assistance or facilitation to return to Zimbabwe.”
The Embassy said the in-person outreach programme will start in Mpumalanga province where meetings will be held in Nelspruit at the Oewesig Community Hall near Lowveld Show Ground from March 13 to 15, and in the same province, another meeting will be held at Witbank at Gereformeerde from March 16 to 18.
The Embassy said in Limpopo province the meetings will be held in Polokwane at Openview, 135 Orpen Road from March 14 to 17 while in North West province holders will be met at Hellenic Centre from March 20 to 22 at the same time.
In North West province further meetings will be held at Mocoseng Sundown Resorts from March 25 to 27.
In Gauteng province, the meeting will be held in Johannesburg at the Consulate of the Republic of Zimbabwe offices from March 29 to April 1.
The Embassy said in the Free State Province the meeting will be held at Bloemfontein City at Ramblers Club from March 20 to 22.
In Kwa-Zulu Natal, the meetings will be held in New Castle on March 24 and 25 at Status Hall and another in Durban at the Jewish Club from March 27 to 31.
In Western Cape, the meeting will take place in Cape Town at Scalabrini Centre from March 13 to 15 while a second one in George city from March 16 to 17 at Conville Community Hall.
The Embassy said in the Eastern Cape, the meetings will be held in Port Elizabeth at the Anglican Church, the Cathedral Church St Mary’s Terrace from March 19 to 20 , and in East London at the Orient Theatre, Quigney Beach from March 22 to 23.
In the Northern Cape, the Embassy said the meeting will be held in Kimberley at the City Hall from March 26 to 28 while in Western Cape the meetings will be held in Vredenburg at the Vredenburg Hall on March 31.
All the meetings will commence at 9AM ending at 3pm.
The Embassy said ZEP holders who are unable to register in-person can utilise the online platform to register.
In a statement, the Embassy urged members of the public to desist from engaging third parties as it has not incorporated any agents.
“The Zimbabwe Embassy in Pretoria and the two Consulates in Johannesburg and Cape Town do not have agents who act on their behalf. Anyone purporting to be such is a fraudster. Members of the public are strongly urged to verify facts with the Embassy and the Consulates through the above listed contact numbers,” reads the statement.