Rights Groups Demand Extension Of Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Deadline

9 months agoMon, 05 Jun 2023 14:26:52 GMT
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Rights Groups Demand Extension Of Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Deadline

Civil rights organizations have formally requested the Department of Home Affairs to extend the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) deadline, which is due to expire at the end of this June.

The Global South Against Xenophobia (GSAX) and Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) have warned that the deadline is causing uncertainty for thousands of Zimbabweans in the country, and could lead to deportation for about 178,000 Zimbabweans who have not applied for alternative permits such as spousal or work permits. 

In the letter, GSAX convener Roshila Nair said the cancellation of the permit threatens the status of the people, lives and livelihoods. Nair said:

The sudden announcement on the intended cancellation by the DHA [department of home affairs] has created an imminent humanitarian crisis for them.

Circumstances in Zimbabwe have not changed and the DHA’s call for them to apply for alternative permits has thus seen a poor uptake as many holders work in ordinary employment and do not qualify for special skills waivers

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Advocate Gabriel Shumba, the chairperson of Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, has stated that only a small number of Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) applicants have been able to apply for waivers and mainstream visas. He identified the deadline as a significant concern, as it would force children to be pulled out of school mid-year. He said:

We believe that it is not too late for dialogue with the stakeholders. There is a need for empathy, humanity and ubuntu to unravel this logjam which is sacrificing documented people who for years have contributed to the economy and have regularised their status after abandoning asylum in some instances. 

The ZEP provided Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa with opportunities for a better life that were previously unattainable in their home country due to economic conditions. However, the call for Zimbabweans to apply for alternative permits has seen poor uptake, partly due to the lack of special skills waivers and employment restrictions.

GSAX) and Lawyers for Human Rights, warn that the cancellation of the ZEP threatens the status, lives, and livelihoods of Zimbabweans in South Africa. They have called for empathy, humanity, and dialogue with stakeholders to prevent an imminent humanitarian crisis. They say the expiration of the permits affects the holders, and their families, including children who were born in South Africa and are at risk of losing their rights.  The organizations have sent a letter to the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, requesting a deadline extension to address the situation, The Sowetan reported.

Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean man who works as a truck driver in South Africa has expressed his fears of leaving behind the life he has built for himself and his family. The expiration of the permits would force him and others to leave, and some may not qualify for alternative permits due to the requirements and restrictions they have.

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