The situation is rapidly ‘turning south’ for a number of Zimbabweans based in South African.
Some major banks in South Africa are threatening to freeze accounts of over 178,000 Zimbabweans who are working or are residents in South Africa on Special Exemption Permits.
Report Focus News has it on good authority, that banks will be used to push holders of these Special Exemption Permits to provide new documents by January 2022, or face account closures or a freeze on their banking.
Several Zimbabweans based in South Africa expressed concerns and enquired as to whether these reports are factual and authentic?
Banks such as, Capitec, have reportedly been sending out letters to clients in this ‘category’ (ZEP) informing them that their work permits were expected to expire and therefore they have to renew the permits in order to have an active bank account.
The letter reads in part, “… Your work permit expires in January. Visit your nearest branch with your new permit to keep your account active …”
The unfolding situation has cause so much anxiety and confusion amongst the Zimbabwean community in South Africa promoting community leaders to seek engagement with the banks to ensure that ZEP holders’ accounts are not closed.
It is understood that most if not all the permits expire at the end of this month.
The South African government decided to discontinue the ZEP program and give permit holders until December 31, 2022, to regularize their immigration status.
Some commentators say the South African government is turning the screws on Zimbabweans as a way of appeasing a growing number of South African voters who want to see a reduction in foreigners in South Africa.
Interestingly this has also seen a rise in xenophobic videos in which South Africans are seen marching foreigners out of the country.