Home Affairs Dept urged to drop a work visa requirement for Zimbabweans

One of the requirments for the issuance of a general work permit is that the Zimbabwean national must have a certificate from the Labour Department which considers the special skills list or a waiver.

FILE: Department of Home Affairs. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The Home Affairs Department said that it had received applications to drop one of its requirements for Zimbabweans applying for a general work visa.

The deadline for Zimbabweans who were on the exemption permit to legitimise their stay is fast approaching.

In November, government announced that the permit would expire at the end of this year.

But the Zimbabweans that Eyewitness News has spoken to said that the application for a work permit was an administrative nightmare.

Meanwhile, the Helen Suzman Foundation is approaching the courts to challenge government’s decision.

One of the requirements for the issuance of a general work permit is that the Zimbabwean national must have a certificate from the Labour Department which considers the special skills list or a waiver.

This pre-school teacher, who did not want to be named out of fear of victimisation, does not possess a skill considered to be critical by the South African government.

As a result, she must be granted a waiver only if her employer can prove that she is the only eligible candidate for the job.

But after running interviews and not finding another candidate, government still says this is not enough.

"Labour was also looking if there are no other [placement] organisations and they were going to look for that. Then they found one and said that they might have the two positions. Now, this is where we are," she said.

The teacher said that her employer must pay for agents from its own coffers, a cost it simply cannot afford.

She has also paid R6,000 for a police clearance certificate both in South Africa and Zimbabwe but that expires this month and because of the delays she has experienced dealing with government offices, she
will most likely need to pay again.

The Home Affairs Department said that it was processing more than 3,000 waiver applications but some have also applied for the issuing of the labour certificate to be completely scrapped.