Chief executive officer of the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), Nicole Fritz
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Zimbos permits termination in SA challenged

A LEGAL challenge is being mounted against South Africa Home Affairs ministry’s decision to terminate the permit system allowing Zimbabweans to live legally in the country.

Chief executive officer of the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), Nicole Fritz says the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) has prevailed for well over a decade, meaning that permit-holders have built lives, families and careers and contributed to South Africa’s economy.

The November announcement of the ZEP termination, which affects about 178 000 Zimbabweans working and studying in South Africa, came with little notification and no public consultation.

“At present, ZEP holders must have obtained other forms of residency authorisation — in most cases an almost impossible requirement — by December 31 or leave South Africa,” said the foundation.

“They will be put to a desperate choice: to remain in South Africa as undocumented migrants with all the vulnerability that attaches to such status, or return to a Zimbabwe that, to all intents and purposes, is unchanged from the country they fled.”

The foundation added there are thousands of children who have been born in South Africa to ZEP holders during this time who have never visited their parents’ country of origin.

“It is not the position of the HSF that those migrants who are in South Africa unlawfully should be entitled to remain, nor that the ZEP must continue in perpetuity.

“Rather, our position is that those who have scrupulously observed South Africa’s laws to live and work here under the ZEP cannot have such permits terminated without fair process, good reason and a meaningful opportunity to regularise their status.

“It is what our constitutional order demands.”

The organisation said it would go to court to challenge the termination of the permits.

Some of the Zimbabweans affected by the ministry’s decision to terminate the permits have also challenged the move in the courts. —  TimesLIVE

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