SCA delivers blow to Home Affairs in ZEP appeal

Source: Dr Aaron Motsoaledi | The Citizen

The Helen Suzman Foundation has welcomed the appellate court’s ruling.


The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has delivered a blow to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) case.

Last Friday, the SCA dismissed, with costs, Motsoaledi’s application for leave to appeal against a high court ruling, which declared his decision to terminate the ZEP programme unlawful.

The Home Affairs minister petitioned to the appellate court last October after the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria upheld its initial ruling.

At the time, the high court ruled in favour of the Helen Suzman Foundation and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa), thus, dismissing Motsoaledi’s appeal application.

The SCA has now found that there are no reasonable prospects of success in an appeal.

It remains to be seen whether the minister will approach the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

In a brief statement, the Helen Suzman Foundation welcomed the appellate court’s decision.

“The SCA’s decision in this regard means that the Pretoria High Court’s judgement still stands, unless the matter is referred to the Constitutional Court,” the statement reads.

ZEP termination unlawful

The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on 28 June 2023, found that Motsoaledi failed to consult with ZEP holders and other interested parties

Therefore, the court declared his November 2021 decision “unlawful and unconstitutional”.

The court also ruled that the ZEP would remain valid until 28 June 2024 for the conclusion of a fair public participation process.

On 8 June, Motsoaledi announced the extension of the ZEP deadline to 31 December 2023, citing a wave of visa and waiver applications from affected Zimbabwean nationals.

The decision was taken to give ZEP holders an opportunity to apply for one or other visa provided for in the Immigration Act they may qualify for.

The ZEP has allowed tens of thousands of Zimbabweans to live, work and study in South Africa since 2009 as part of the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP).

Permits extension

In December, Motsoaledi announced that his department granted at least 178 000 Zimbabwean nationals exemptions permits until 29 November 2025.

According to the minister, the Zimbabwean nationals will be allowed to work, seek employment and conduct business in South Africa during the period of validity or to apply for a new permit.

The affected people will, however, not be entitled to apply for permanent residence irrespective of period of stay in South Africa and their new permits will not be renewable.

No holder of a valid exemption permit may be arrested, ordered to depart or be detained for purposes of deportation or deported for any reason related to them not having any valid exemption certificate.

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