Minister of State and Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords Baroness Anelay of St Johns has refused to speculate on the impact of South Africa’s decision that Zimbabweans should now follow the normal channels of applying for work and study permits.
Most Zimbabweans are currently using special dispensation permits which were initially for four years but where then reduced to three years making a total of seven years.
Normally when a person has lived in South Africa for more than five years, that person qualifies for resident status.
It is not clear whether this will apply to Zimbabweans who were using special permits.
South Africa announced in February that it is not renewing the special permits when they expire in December this year.
Estimates of Zimbabweans in South Africa range from 1.2 million to three million but fewer than 300 000 were granted special permits.
Baroness Anelay was responding to a question from Lord Oates who wanted to know what assessment the British government had made of the impact on the Zimbabwe economy of the announcement by the South African government.
“The South African Government has the right to apply their own rules about visas and work and study permits,” she responded.
“It is for the South African and Zimbabwean authorities to comment on the impact this might have on the Zimbabwean economy and on jobs held by Zimbabweans in South Africa.’