Response: The Suspension of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits by Peter-John Pearson
At a media briefing on 25th November, a government spokesperson revealed that Cabinet had decided to discontinue the renewal and operation of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP), which are set to expire on 31st December this year. Rumours, which the Cabinet statement called ‘fake news’, were circulating that the permits would be renewed for a further five year period and also function as a threshold for granting holders permanent residence in South Africa. This new decision will deprive up to 200 000 Zimbabweans of the right to live and work here legally. Although there will be a 12 month grace period during which ZEP holders can seek to regularise their stay in SA using other appropriate permits, there are in fact very few alternative permits, especially for people not qualifying for scarce-skills visas. Those who are unsuccessful under the new regime will have to leave SA or be deported.