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By Cheryl Kahla

Content Strategist

Zimbabwe Exemption Permits: Motsoaledi will ‘rigorously defend spurious court actions’

When Home Affairs announced it would not renew Zimbabwe Exemption Permits, two groups representing the interests of ZEP holders took the matter to court.

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi this week welcomed the High Court decision to strike the urgent applications by Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) holders from the roll.

This after Motsoaledi on 19 December said he would not reverse the decision to terminate ZEPs issued to asylum seekers once they’d expired.

Zimbabwe Exemption Permits

‘Abuse’ of SA systems

At the time, he said there was “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.

Since then, two groups representing the interests of ZEP holders took the matter to court.

The applications of the two interest groups – one calling itself African Amity and the other group led by Bongani Nyathi, Gaston Ngulube and Njabulo Ncube – were heard in court on 28 December 2021.

Motsoaledi ‘rigorously defends decision’

The Minister and the department “rigorously defended both applications” and argued that the applicants failed to comply with the practice manual and lack of urgency.

Following the court’s judgement, Motsoaledi said he was “determined to defend any spurious court actions aimed at undermining the lawful and reasonable decision which I took in my capacity as the Minister of the department”.

He added, however, that his department “will acknowledge the rights of individuals and groups to approach the courts to seek remedies if they feel aggrieved”.

Effects of termination ZEPs

Earlier this month, the ZEP Permit Holders Association’s advocate Simba Chitando said they were “still challenging [the] decision and seeking permanent residency for ZEP holders”.

Chitando said if permit holders don’t apply for mainstream visas, they face the closure of their bank accounts, termination of their employment, loss of their places at academic institutions, and other essential services.

In addition, the Centre for Applied Legal Studies has also spoken out against the decision to terminate the permits. It wants the decision rescinded on “humanitarian grounds”.

“Zimbabwe remains a country in turmoil and continues to experience serious economic and political challenges and violence,” it said in a statement.

Zimbabwean government’s response

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government said on 22 December it respected the South African government’s decision to not renew the 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 it would not extend the permits when they expire on December 31.

Additional reporting by Reitumetse Makwea.

Find The Citizen’s Zimbabwean coverage here.

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