Confusion over Zimbabwean permits as holders association fights for permanent residency
Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the department had not withdrawn its directive to end the ZEP and give holders a 12-month grace period to apply for other statuses.
Permits expire at the end of December 2021, after which the Department of Home Affairs has instructed Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders to apply for ‘mainstream visas’ and to ensure that their applications comply with the provisions and requirements of the Immigration Act and its accompanying regulations. (Photo by Phill Magakoe / AFP)
The confusion around the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) continues as the ZEP Permit Holders Association and nonprofit organisation African Amity remove the application in court to challenge the department of home affairs’ directive to not renew ZEPs.
The association said they were happy the directive was withdrawn following an announcement supposedly on
the department’s website, but they were still fighting for permanent residency.
“On 14 December, at the urgent hearing, after the withdrawal of directive 10 of 2021, I removed the application
to challenge that directive, which required ZEP holders to apply for mainstream visas before 31 December because
the matter was moot.
“The directive we were challenging had been withdrawn by home affairs a day before,” said the association’s advocate Simba Chitando.
He said the directive 10 of 2021 required ZEP holders to apply for mainstream visas by 31 December and if they
did not, to face the closure of their bank accounts, termination of their employment, loss of their places at academic institutions and other essential services.
“We are still challenging that decision and seeking permanent residency for ZEP holders.
“We celebrate the withdrawal of the oppressive 29 November, 2021 directive.”
However, in an interview on Radio 702, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the department had not withdrawn its directive to end the ZEP and give holders a 12-month grace period to apply for other statuses.
He said the department had taken a decision not to renew temporary permits for more than 200 000 Zimbabweans
working in the country when their visas expire.
“What we have withdrawn is a circular issued by the officials in the department after a Cabinet decision, a circular
which purports to explain what the banks must do.
“That circular was wrong, it caused more confusion.
“Regarding the initial decision to end the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit, nothing has changed.
“Nothing is going to change and that is that.”
He said the special dispensation was never a permanent resolution and was done under special circumstances, as
the asylum system was overrun at the time.
Lawyers for Human Rights refugee and migrants rights programme manager Sharon Ekambaram previously told The Citizen the requirement was impossible to meet, which meant thousands of ZEP holders were in danger of losing jobs.
“The decision by the department of home affairs will cause irreparable harm unless the court intervenes on
an urgent basis,” she said.