Zimbabweans working in South Africa have enjoyed special work permits since 2009 but South Africa has decided not to renew the permits which expire at the end of this month but has extended them by a year to give permit holders a chance to seek alternative permits.
About 200 000 Zimbabweans are on these special permits but many more are in the country illegally while others have normal work permits which are usually tied to the employer.
British legislator Ruth Jones yesterday asked a junior minister whether Britain had held discussions with the South African government on their proposal not to renew the Zimbabwean permits.
Junior minister in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Vicky Ford said the British High Commission in South African and its embassy in Harare were seeking to understand the proposals in great detail and whether Zimbabwe and South Africa were talking.
She, however, said the decision would have a significant impact in the region if fully implemented.
Ruth Jones Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, whether she has held discussions with the South African government on their proposals to remove the permission to legally remain in that country from 200,000 holders of the Zimbabwean exemption permit on 31 December 2021.
Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office): We are aware of the proposals to remove Zimbabwean exemption permits. Details of this policy are still emerging but, if fully implemented, they would have significant impact in the region. Our High Commission in South Africa and Embassy in Zimbabwe are seeking to understand the proposals in greater detail and to establish what discussions are taking place between the two governments.