Zimbabwe Exemption Permit saga: Government faces legal challenge
It wants to challenge the department's decision not to renew the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits.
Aaron Motsoaledi at a press conference about the outbreak of listeriosis. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark
The Zimbabwe Immigration Federation is taking the Department of Home Affairs to court over the termination of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).
This after cabinet decided in November not to renew the permit when they expired in December 2021, but agreed to an extension of December 2022 to grant them a chance to apply for alternative visas.
The federation launched a review application at the High Court in Pretoria to challenge this decision that is likely to affect over 150, 0000 Zimbabwean nationals who live, study and work legally in South Africa with the permit.
HFS permit Lawsuit
Back in June, the Helen Suzman Foundation( HSF) also threatened to file a lawsuit against the home affairs department, in an attempt to have the decision reversed.
Motsoaledi slammed this legal action by the HFS and advised Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders to ignore false hope created by HSF.
It said the decision by Minister of Home Affairs, Motsoaledi not to renew the permits will cause them and their families to suffer financially, while also fueling xenophobia.
It has filed the lawsuit against Aaron Motsoaledi and 6 other respondents including the director general of the department, the Minister of Police and the President who it said bear the responsibility for the humanitarian disaster to come.
“The decision of Minister Motsoaledi has a direct and indirect disastrous impact on hundreds of thousands of people including children and their poverty-stricken families in Zimbabwe, where unemployment, instability, and starvation are rife,” said the federation in a statement.
The exemption permits were granted to more than 250,000 asylum seekers who crossed the border during Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis in 2008 and 2009.
Arrest and deportation
It further stated that the deportation of Zimbabwe nationals who fail to apply for visas will not have any meaningful effect on unemployment in South Africa.
A Gazette published by home affairs in January stated that no holder of the exemption can be arrested, detained, or ordered to depart for not having a valid exemption permit during the grace period.
However, those who have failed to apply for alternative visas after the grace period ends will be deported.
“The High Court is also being asked to grant interim relief soon to avoid the pending loss of jobs to ZEP Permit Holders, deportations and potential prejudice in contributed Provident Funds, UIF and Pension Funds.”
Compiled by Kgomotso Phooko