HomeNewsLatest NewsOutraged ZEP Holders Fight For Permanent Residency Despite Permit Extension

Outraged ZEP Holders Fight For Permanent Residency Despite Permit Extension

They contend that the ZEP is, in essence, a permanent residence permit valid for a specific period, as allowed by the Immigration Act. Therefore, ZEP holders believe they are entitled to ID documents.

The recent announcement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, regarding the two-year extension for Zimbabwean and Lesotho exemption permit holders has sparked outrage among Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders.

While this extension allows them to continue working, studying, and living in South Africa until November 29, 2025, it also prohibits them from applying for permanent residency.

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This decision has led to a court case in the Pretoria High Court, as ZEP holders argue that the law entitles them to apply for permanent residence after five years in the country.

The ZEP Holders Association (Zepha) has expressed its dissatisfaction with the extension of the permit system, stating that it further demonstrates the unlawfulness and unenforceability of the decision to end the permit system in the manner it was ended.

Zepha has already initiated legal proceedings to compel the Department of Home Affairs to allow ZEP holders, many of whom have been in South Africa for over a decade, to apply for permanent residence.

Alongside the extension, Minister Motsoaledi outlined several conditions for permit holders. Firstly, they are not allowed to change their immigrant status in South Africa while the permit is valid.

Additionally, individuals applying for a permit extension must disclose and register all minor children born and residing in South Africa. Notably, the new permit extension is not renewable, and permit holders will maintain freedom of movement into and out of the country.

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Minister Motsoaledi has urged affected Lesotho and Zimbabwean nationals to take advantage of the opportunity to apply for new exemption permits through VFS Global, the organization responsible for processing permit applications on behalf of Home Affairs.

Zepha’s advocate, Simba Chitando, has criticized the minister, citing numerous court setbacks that have impacted vulnerable Zimbabwean nationals who contribute significantly to the South African economy and form an integral part of the community.

Chitando’s instructions are to proceed with the motion to allow ZEP holders to apply for permanent residence.

In court documents, Zepha argues that the permits were issued under Section 31 of the Immigration Act, which grants foreigners the rights of permanent residence for a specified or unspecified period when special circumstances justify the decision.

They contend that the ZEP is, in essence, a permanent residence permit valid for a specific period, as allowed by the Immigration Act. Therefore, ZEP holders believe they are entitled to ID documents.

They assert that they have a legitimate expectation for the renewal of their current permit and for permanent residence without any further conditions, including the right to apply for citizenship in South Africa.

The Department of Home Affairs has faced a series of legal defeats in recent years, including a ruling by the Helen Suzman Foundation that declared the government’s decision to terminate the ZEP system as unlawful and unconstitutional.

Minister Motsoaledi acknowledges this loss and states that the matter is being appealed. Furthermore, the Durban High Court recently ruled that Zimbabweans with valid permits cannot be fired from their jobs, responding to companies terminating the employment of truck drivers with valid permits.

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The extension of the permit system for Zimbabwean and Lesotho exemption permit holders has generated significant controversy among ZEP holders.

As the legal battle continues, ZEP holders are fighting for their right to apply for permanent residence, arguing that the permit system’s termination was unlawful and unconstitutional. The outcome of this case will have profound implications for the future of ZEP holders and their aspirations for permanent residency in South Africa.

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Keitumetse Modise for SurgeZirc SA
Keitumetse Modise for SurgeZirc SA
Keitumetse Modise is a passionate and dedicated local news writer who brings the latest news and updates from your community straight to your doorstep. With years of experience in journalism, Keitumetse has established herself as a reliable source of information, covering a wide range of topics that matter to you.
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