The Zimbabwean government says it respects the South African government’s decision to not renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs).
The exemption permits were granted to more than 250,000 Zimbabweans who crossed the border during Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis in 2008 and 2009.
Cabinet decided in November that it would not extend the permits when they expire on December 31.
According to City Press, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is adamant that Home Affairs will push ahead with the termination of the permits.
It also reported that South African government officials were facing pressure from Zimbabwean politicians to withdraw the decision.
Motsoaledi said if South Africa did this it would be abusing its own immigration laws.
“There’s an abuse of our systems and, if we don’t put our foot down, we’ll keep being abused forever. We’re not going to be forced to break our own laws in order to make someone else’s work easy,” he said.
The Zimbabwean government says though it respects South Africa’s decision to not renew the permits, it is engaging with the South African government to find solutions to minimise the damage on the livelihoods of those affected.
“It’s a sovereign decision by the republic of South Africa to now terminate those permits, and as the government of Zimbabwe we do respect that decision to terminate. We have always known that there was that clause which was going to end in those permits, so we really do respect that decision by South Africa,” said a Zimbabwean official in an interview with Newzroom Afrika.
“South Africa is free just like any other country to make immigration laws for their own country and other countries are supposed to respect that decision. However, we are working with the South African government to minimise the disruptions to our citizens, especially in the implementation of the new regime in South Africa.”
Additional reporting by Reitumetse Makwea