The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) is a special permit that allows Zimbabweans to live and work in South Africa. The permit was first introduced in 2009 as a humanitarian gesture to allow Zimbabweans who had fled their country’s political and economic turmoil to stay in South Africa. The ZEP was initially valid for four years, and it has been extended twice, most recently in 2017. Zimbabwe exemption permit Latest News
In November 2021, the South African government announced that it would not be extending the ZEP any further. The government cited a number of reasons for this decision, including budgetary constraints, improvements in the situation in Zimbabwe, and the need to ease the pressure on the asylum seeker system.
The decision to terminate the ZEP was met with widespread criticism from civil society groups and human rights organizations. These groups argued that the decision would have a devastating impact on the lives of thousands of Zimbabweans who had built their lives in South Africa.
In June 2023, the Pretoria High Court ruled that the government’s decision to terminate the ZEP was unlawful, unconstitutional, and invalid. The court ordered the government to reconsider the issue “following a fair process” that complies with the relevant laws.
Pending the outcome of the court’s order, the ZEP remains valid until the end of June 2024. This means that ZEP holders are not currently at risk of arrest or deportation. However, their future immigration status in South Africa remains uncertain.
The court’s ruling is a major victory for Zimbabweans in South Africa. However, it is important to note that the court’s order does not guarantee that the ZEP will be extended indefinitely. The government could still decide to terminate the ZEP, but it would now have to do so in a fair and transparent manner.
The future of the ZEP remains uncertain, but the court’s ruling has given Zimbabweans in South Africa a much-needed reprieve. The ruling has also highlighted the importance of legal challenges in protecting the rights of migrants.