Zimbabweans living in SA welcome govt's decision to withdraw ZEP circular

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed the directive had been withdrawn on the eve of an urgent court bid by the lawyers, but he also said this did not change Cabinet’s decision not to renew the special dispensation.

FILE: A South African Police Service officer interacts with a driver who's crossing from Zimbabwe into South Africa using the Beitbridge border post, near Musina, South Africa, on 8 January 2021. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The lawyer representing the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit holders’ association on Tuesday said the withdrawal of the controversial directive by the Home Affairs Department was a victory for many Zimbabweans living in South Africa.

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi confirmed the directive had been withdrawn on the eve of an urgent court bid by the lawyers, but he also said this did not change Cabinet’s decision not to renew the special dispensation.

Motsoaledi said the directive suggesting ZEP holders who could not provide proof they had applied for alternative permits by the end of this month would have seen them lose access to services such as banking and possibly be prevented from returning to South Africa has been withdrawn.

"That circular was very wrong, it was not supposed to be issued and it was causing more confusion. But the initial decision about the Zimbabwe exemption permit - nothing has changed."

The lawyer representing the ZEP’s association and African Amity, Simba Chitando, said following the withdrawal of the circular, they’ve removed their urgent court application which was to be heard in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday.

"It is a victory without a doubt. The Department of Home Affairs issued a bad directive that was really punitive and every unreasonable, and is rightly being withdrawn."

Chitando said while there was still a lot of work to be done before the main case, they are bent on having Cabinet's decision reversed and earning affected Zimbabweans permanent residency.