10 000 Zimbabweans Register To Return Home As ZEP Scheme Ends
Around 10 000 Zimbabweans living in South Africa on the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) have applied for assistance from their Government to return home and resettle.
The Zimbabwean Exemption Permit expires at the end of this month.
Speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi, said:
The government (of Zimbabwe) has indicated that it will facilitate the smooth return of those who wish to return home, and we will offer assistance to those who indicate that they would wish to have that assistance.
At this point in time, we are actually working on some requests for assistance to go back.
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We are working with a number between 8 000 and 10 000 at the moment because those are the individuals who have registered their interest to get some type of assistance to go back home.
ZEP holders have until the end of June 2023 to obtain permission to stay in the country or face possible deportation.
On 29 November 2021, a directive was issued by the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirming the cabinet’s decision to discontinue the ZEP scheme.
The ZEP permits, which were due to expire on 31 December 2021, were automatically regarded as valid until 31 December 2022.
On 2 September 2022, the Minister of Home Affairs extended ZEP for an additional 6 months until 30 June 2023 to allow the holders to apply for one or another visa for which they may qualify in terms of the Immigration Act.
However, three civil rights groups have challenged this move in the Pretoria High Court.
The Pretoria High Court reserved its ruling in the battle between Home Affairs and civil groups but time is running out for thousands of Zimbabweans who may soon find themselves as illegal migrants in South Africa.
Tens of ZEP holders may be forced to leave South Africa if the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, rules in favour of the South African government.
More: Pindula News