Home affairs to end 178,000 Zimbabwe exemption permits in December


By Agreement Mabunda

About 6 000 of the 178 000 Zimbabwe Exemption Permit holders in South Africa submitted arguments as to why their permits shouldn’t be cancelled.

The home affairs department this week announced it was forging ahead with its plan to terminate the exemption permit and has told SA employers of Zimbabwean immigrants to start preparing before the deportations.

The ZEPs were granted to Zimbabweans who moved to the country before 2009.

Less than 4% of ZEP holders have submitted arguments to the Department of Home Affairs explaining why their documents should not be revoked later this year.

This was revealed in court documents the government submitted to Pretoria’s Gauteng High Court.

Cabinet made the decision in January that the arrangement would end by December and that permit holders would need to apply for a visa to stay in South Africa based on a list of necessary skills.

The Helen Suzman Foundation has filed a lawsuit against the government over the removal of the permits.

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) announced in June that it will sue the government for ending the permits, claiming that the action would force ZEP holders in South Africa to become unauthorized migrants and return home.

It stated that the affected Zimbabweans would experience identical circumstances to those that forced them to leave their native nations.

Livhuwani Tommy Makhode, director-general of Home Affairs, said in court documents that the minister had permitted ZEP holders to apply for visas in accordance with the Immigration Act.

Makhode further stated that no decision has been made on the future granting of exemptions.

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