Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi

By Staff Reporter

South African Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has welcomed the ruling by the North High Court in Pretoria to dismiss the urgent application by Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders for lack of urgency.

In a statement, Motsoaledi said ‘desperate’ ZEP holders were trying every trick in the book in a bid to overturn his decision not to renew ZEP that expires on New Year’s Eve.

“Late on Friday, 24 December 2021 two organisations claiming to be representing the interests of ZEP holders, one calling itself African Amity, launched urgent applications in the High Court, Gauteng Division, Pretoria. The other group is led by a Bongani Nyathi, Gaston Ngulube and Njabulo Ncube,” he said.

At the heart of the dispute was the decision taken by the Minister of Home Affairs not to renew the ZEP and impose a condition giving a 12-month grace period during which time ZEP holders need to regularise their stay through normal immigration laws of the country.

The minister took the decision as he is empowered to do so in terms of the relevant provisions of the Immigration Act, 2002.

The relief sought by these two groups was basically to be granted permanent residency and that the Court should instruct the Department to issue ZEP holders with visas, pending the review of the Minister’s decision by the courts.

The ZEP was issued to applicants who are on the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation permit (ZSP) whose permits were expiring at end of December 2017.

The ZSP permit holders would like to remain in South Africa.

Nearly 180,000 Zimbabweans who hold the permit were given a grace period of 12 months to migrate to other permits.

Emma Dimairho, deposing for African Amity, says this requirement is impossible to meet, “unreasonable, unfair, cruel and leaves thousands of ZEP holders in jeopardy of losing their jobs” as well as financial services.

The decision by Home Affairs will cause irreparable harm unless the court intervenes on an urgent basis, according to the court application.

The minister and the department defended both applications and argued that the applicants in both matters failed to comply with the practice manual and directives and lack of urgency.

Zimbabweans living in South Africa gathered Department of Home Affairs office in Johannesburg

The court ruled in favour of the minister and removed the African Amity’s matter from the roll. Costs were reserved. The minister and the department intend to insist on punitive costs against African Amity.

In the matter of Bongani Nyathi, Gaston Ngulube and Njabulo Ncube, the Court ordered the applicants to pay the minister and the department’s costs.

&We are determined to defend any spurious court actions aimed at undermining the lawful and reasonable decision which I took in my capacity as the minister of the department.

“We are doing this while we acknowledge the rights of individuals and groups to approach the courts to seek remedies if they feel aggrieved,” said Motsoaledi.

“It is common cause that there are many other groupings who are poised to take on review the decision on ZEP in the courts of law in the New Year. And as a result, the Department will defend the lawful, rational and reasonable decision taken in my capacity as the minister of the department.”

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