With just six months left before the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) expires for those living in South Africa, Zimbabweans are feeling a range of emotions.
While some are hoping for an extension, others are considering leaving the country. The South African government announced that the ZEP will be terminated on June 30, 2023, which will affect approximately 180,000 Zimbabweans living in South Africa.
In October, the Zimbabwean government stated that it was prepared to welcome back its citizens and would provide assistance with transportation and other logistics. However, there has been an influx of Zimbabweans returning home, with 62,770 people entering the country through the Beitbridge border from December 5 to 10.
Brian Moyo, a Zimbabwean teacher in South Africa, is planning to return home in January but is also considering seeking employment in China, where salaries for teaching jobs can range from 70,000 to 120,000 rand, depending on the school and experience. Another option for employment will become available in March, when the United Kingdom opens up teaching positions for those from South Africa, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. However, Moyo has not yet considered this option.
The volatile exchange rate between the rand and the US dollar, the preferred currency of trade, has also made it difficult for Zimbabweans in South Africa to spend their money in their home country. In addition, there are concerns about the potential for xenophobic attacks as the ZEP expiration date approaches. By the end of October, fewer than 10% of ZEP holders had applied for mainstream visas.