A South African lawyer represents holders of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) and argues that discontinuing the scheme will cause irreparable harm to her clients, as reported by Pindula. Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi represents 1,000 Zimbabwean nationals under the Zimbabwean Immigration Federation (ZIF) before a full bench in the Pretoria High Court. ZIF is challenging the Department of Home Affairs’ decision to discontinue the ZEP programme. Ngcukaitobi says that the termination of the ZEP scheme will render the Zimbabwean nationals as illegal immigrants subject to arrest and forced deportation after the 30th of June this year. Ngcukaitobi further outlined:
“The simple question is, on the first of July 2023, what will happen to the 178,000 recipients of the ZEP programme? What will happen to them? It is common knowledge that they will become illegal immigrants in South Africa overnight. That would mean that they would either have to deport themselves voluntarily, but they are unable to return to Zimbabwe for the reasons that will be articulated. Therefore, it would mean they would be liable to forced deportation or arrest because they would have violated the provisions of the Act.”
Around 2008, thousands of Zimbabweans crossed the border into South Africa, seeking better economic opportunities after the Zimbabwean economy had virtually collapsed. As a result, South Africa introduced the Dispensation of Zimbabwean Permit (DZP) in 2009 to legalise Zimbabweans living and working there. In 2014, the DZP renamed the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP), and three years later, the name changed again to Zimbabwe Exemption Permit or ZEP.
In September 2022, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs extended the permit, which was due to expire on December 31, for six months to June 30, 2023.
Picture: Twitter / allafrica