ZEPs Humble SA Government
30 June 2023
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By-The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), an organisation established by Zimbabwean political and economic refugees residing in South Africa, has welcome a ruling by South African courts on the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) case.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi’s decison to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) was unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

Speaking to IOL, Advocate Gabriel Shumba from the ZEF said the ruling shows that there is rule of law in SA and an indicator of the country’s constitutionalism.

He said they anticipate that Motsoaledi will engage in discussions with stakeholders to find a mutually agreeable solution moving forward. Said Shumba:

We hope that this small group of people, who have given so much to the economy and have tried to comply with the laws, will not be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

The court challenge was mounted by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA), the All Truck Drivers Forum and Allied of South Africa (ATDFASA) and the Zimbabwe Immigration Federation.

Meanwhile, Motsoaledi said his department will appeal the ruling by the High Court.

He said he will also be challenging the court’s ruling in the matter of the Zimbabwe Immigration Federation and his department. Motsoaledi’s spokesperson Siya Qoza said:

The Minister has carefully studied the judgment and has taken legal advice on it.

The two judgments cannot go unchallenged as they set a dangerous precedent.

The finding of the court on the applicability or otherwise of sections 3 and 4 of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) is highly questionable, particularly the requirement for public participation when a decision of this nature is taken, affecting a specified category of persons only. In this instance, the affected are Zimbabwean nationals.

The decision that the minister took not to extend the Zimbabwean exemptions involves weighing of policy considerations which falls within the domain of the executive.

Qoza questioned why the High Court granted an interim interdict which restrains government agencies from detaining or deporting ZEP permit holders, saying the Minister had already issues a directive to that effect. He said:

It is not clear as to what is the purpose of interdict when in fact the minister issued directives to ensure that the affected Zimbabwean nationals continue to enjoy the protections afforded by the directives.

The last minister’s immigration directive was issued on 7 June 2023. Since the Minister took the decision, no Zimbabwean national has been threatened in any manner whatsoever and/or deported.

They continue to enjoy freedom of movement between South Africa and Zimbabwe and anywhere, as pleaded in the affidavits filed in court on behalf of the minister showing significant movements to and from Zimbabwe by the affected Zimbabwean nationals and their families.

Qoza added that Motsoaledi “will do everything in his power to ensure that the immigration laws of the Republic of South Africa are enforced without fear or favour.”