Home Affairs minister loses the battle to terminate Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) again

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has denied Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s bid to challenge a Gauteng High Court ruling regarding the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) program.

This ruling, delivered earlier this month, declared the termination of the ZEP program unlawful, unconstitutional, and invalid.

The SCA justified its decision by stating that there were insufficient prospects of success for the appeal and no compelling reasons to hear it. Consequently, the original judgment from the High Court remains in force unless the matter is escalated to the Constitutional Court.

Helen Suzman on ZEP

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), a key litigant in the case, reiterated the validity of ZEP permits.

“The ZEP per­mits are there­fore valid and allow hold­ers to con­tinue liv­ing in South Africa on the same terms and con­di­tions prior to its unlaw­ful ter­min­a­tion,” theb HSF said.


Zimbabwean Exemption Permit

In June of last year, the High Court had directed Minister Motsoaledi to reconsider the termination of the  permits through a transparent and fair process that adheres to relevant legal frameworks.

As a result, the permits were extended for an additional 12 months, ensuring protection from arrest and deportation until the end of June 2024.

The legal battle stemmed from the minister’s unilateral decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit program in 2021, prompting legal action from advocacy groups such as the Helen Suzman Foundation and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa.

Criticism was directed at the lack of consultation with affected parties before the program’s termination, this is the point emphasised by the High Court judges who ruled on the case.


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