Blanket visa exemptions for Zimbabweans illegally in SA were introduced in 2009 under the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP) . The long used Zimbabwean exemption permits will expire at the end of June 2023 which means 178,000 ZEP holders and their families will be declared illegal foreigners on 1 July 2023. Some have called this a massive humanitarian crisis.
The expiry of the ZEP permits will likely leave huge gap in the South African work force as well and this danger has not been addressed by the South African Department of Home Affairs. Another issue which does not seem to have been considered is the likely pressure to be experienced at the South African Zimbabwean borders. There will be an estimated 178,000 ZEP holders leaving at the end of June 2023. Private travel between the countries, and logistics companies will also feel the effect of the ZEP cancellations and will not be able to cross the border freely.
In latest developments the Zimbabwe Immigrants Forum has asked the court for an interim interdict to prevent the ZEP coming to an end on 30 June however the lapsing of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) system was a political decision by the Minister of Home Affairs, and does not take away the rights of ZEP holders, the government has argued.
178 000 ZEP holders are waiting with baited breaths for the judgement.
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18 April 2023