SA Main Opposition Promises ZEP Holders Citizenship
27 March 2024
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South Africa of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena, advises beneficiaries of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) not to readily believe Helen Zille’s statements regarding granting them citizenship in the neighbouring country.

Helen Zille, former leader and current Federal Council Chair of the Democratic Alliance (DA), expressed in a recent interview that ZEP holders should be regularized due to their long stay in South Africa and their significant contributions to the economy.

While Zille opposes revoking their permits, she emphasizes the need for proper laws and border control by the South African government.

However, Mabhena warned that political parties in South Africa may exploit the issue of migrants as one of their rallying points in their campaigns. Said Mabhena.

South Africa is in the middle of an election campaign, whose elections will be held on May 29, 2024, and Zille has said holders of the exemption permits should be given citizenship.

Already, there is a court case which wants ZEP holders to be granted Permanent Residence Permits. Now she has taken it up to say give them citizenship.

We discussed an opinion poll by the eNCA and based on that opinion poll, it seems opposition parties are not attracting enough support to the extent that they will dislodge the ANC from power. This poll put support for the DA at 20 per cent.

While the DA is concerned about the borders it has not taken a tougher stance on migrants in SA. This is election season and migration is discussed.

Mabhena suggested that Zille could be using the burning ZEP issue to attract more funding from employers for her party.

 He said:

I am a member of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF) and know a lot of migrants will welcome what Zille is saying but we need to think deeply about the intentions in this election.

This is an election campaign right, is she trying to attract more funding from employers to her party in this election campaign?

She does make a point that migrants have made a contribution to the South African economy but what is her intention in raising this during the election campaign?

I’ve not seen the response from ActionSA which uses migration as its key message and we know ideologically ActionSA is liberal like the DA.

Is Zille trying to draw more funding from employers or is she genuine?

The ZEP, along with the Lesotho Exemption Permits, was extended until November 2025. This decision affects approximately 178,000 Zimbabweans currently living and working in South Africa.