Thousands of Zimbabweans are challenging the South African Department of Home Affairs over permanent residency delays threatening jobs but livelihoods. Most of these Zimbabweans have lived in the country for over 10 years.
Counsel representing the group, Simba Chitando said: “There is a wide connection between the two nations-as families and individuals of Zimbabweans.
This matter puts strain on families. The ZEP is limited to the holder. You have a situation where a South African spouse is affected by the fact that their husband or wife is on the ZEP and that puts a stain on their relationship.”
One of the applicants in court case says the South African Department of Home Affairs dragging its feet on the matter opens a gap for the exploitation of Zimbabweans.
“The South African government has seen it fit to offer permanent residents to other nationals such as the Germans and British not to their neigbours Zimbabwe. “
The fate of the thousands of Zimbabweans will only be revealed in December this year when the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits will expire.
The minister in the presidency, Mondli Gungubele, announced the outcomes of the recent cabinet meeting. Cabinet announced on Thursday that the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), which ends December 31, will not be extended.
However, Cabinet decided on a 12-month grace period during which time ZEP holders “should apply for other permits appropriate to their particular status or situation”. Those who are not successful will have to leave South Africa or face deportation.
Permit holders were debating whether to return home for Christmas. Many said banks had been refusing to grant them loans and cancelling their pre-approved bond applications, while employers were not renewing contracts because of their uncertain status. Cabinet’s grace period will not necessarily help in this regard, and many ZEP holders are unlikely to qualify for other permits.
There are also other special exemption permits that will need decisions:
On August 16, 2021, Home Affairs opened the application for an Angolan Exemption Permit. The Angolan Special Permit (ASP) was first issued in 2018 and expires at the end of this year. The Lesotho Exemption Permit (LEP) of 2019 expires on 31 December 2023.
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