ZIMBABWEANS based in South Africa have engaged the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for assistance in ensuring that Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders get their employment benefits before returning home.
This follows the decision by the South African government not to extend the permits for ZEP holders.
Permit holders have been given up to June this year to move to other visa provisions or return home.
Government has already established an inter-ministerial committee, which will be in charge of the relocation of ZEP holders in South Africa.
The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) has pledged to collaborate with the Government to assist Zimbabweans to return home.
ZEP holders have worked in South Africa for more than 10 years and are expected to receive employment benefits when their permits are terminated.
However, most of the ZEP holders do not qualify for other available visas in the neighbouring country as they do not hold the specified critical skills qualifications.
The Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa is already seized with drafting an online database to assist in the movement of returning citizens.
While the Zimbabwean Community in South Africa has welcomed the interventions by the Government, the organisation’s chairperson, Mr Ngqabutho Mabhena, said ZEP holders are concerned about the employment benefits ahead of the expiration of their permits.
He said they were engaging both the South African government and ILO so that workers do not lose out when their permits expire.
“One of the issues that we are working on and still consulting is to assist those who would not have been able to move to other visas to be able to get their work benefits like the Provident Fund,” he said.
“Workers who are holders of ZEP are asking us about the procedure and we are talking to the Department of Labour in Pretoria and we are talking to the International Labour Organisation, they have an office in Pretoria to see how we can assist these workers so that they do not lose out on their benefits.”
Under the Provident Fund, employees receive money depending on the taxes they would have paid. Mr Mabhena said ZEP holders have been part of the South African economy for more than 10 years and accrued some benefits in the process.
“They have been part of the South African economy for the last 13 years and it is our considered view that if they decide to relocate they should be able to take their benefits with them,” said Mr Mabhena.
He said they were closely following the Government’s interventions in assisting returnees.
“We welcome the intervention by the Zimbabwean Government to assist those that are returning to Zimbabwe. What is a worry to most people is that they do have properties and as returning residents and they should not be paying duty,” he said.
“We are happy that the Zimbabwean Government is facilitating that so that people move to Zimbabwe with their goods, their properties, with their vehicles and those items that ordinarily they would have to pay duty for.”
He said ZEP holders should take up the online registration programme, which Government has extended to them.
Mr Mabhena said ZEP holders are concerned over their reintegration to Zimbabwean society as most of them had not invested much back home.
Online registration is being conducted to map areas in which ZEP holders are located.
Briefing the South African press at the beginning of the month, Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa Ambassador David Hamadziripi said Government said the online registration runs from February 2 and ends March 3.
More than 180 000 ZEP holders could face deportation if they do not migrate to other visas offered by the South African government by the end of June if they do not voluntarily return home. Chronicle