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Court battle against cancellation of ZEP in SA postponed indefinitely

The court battle against the cancellation of the right of Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) holders to stay and work in South Africa has been postponed indefinitely.

South Africa, last year, decided not to renew the ZEP beyond the end of December this year, a decision that is likely to affect more than 150,000 Zimbabwean nationals who live, study and work legally in South Africa with the permit.

This led Advocate Simba Chitando, a lawyer who represents the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit Holders Association to approach the court in South Africa suing the authorities over the decision.

He cited Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and is requesting the court to reverse the cancellation of the ZEP.

The matter was supposed to be heard tomorrow. But Chitando, in a statement on Wednesday morning indicated that the judicial case management meeting held on October 3 established that both the complainant and defense were not ready for the hearing, hence the decision to postpone the matter.

“On 3 October 2022 there was an urgent judicial case management meeting before a panel of three Judges of the Pretoria High Court,” Chitando said.

“All the parties involved in the ZEP litigation were represented by their respective lawyers. During that meeting it became apparent that all the matters, for various reasons, were not ripe for hearing on the 5 to the 7th of October 2022, which were the date the Court had previously allocated.

“On 4 October 2022 Judge Collis postponed the 5 October 2022 joint ZEP hearing. New dates for the hearing will be announced in due course.”

Last month, Motsoaledi extended the Zimbabwean exemption permits, which were due to expire at the end of the year, by a further six months.

He, however, warned that there will be no further extensions.

The Minister said the decision was meant to provide Zimbabweans living in his country on the basis of such permits more time in which to apply for other types of visas or permits.

Recent survey by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) revealed that South Africa is holding close to a million Zimbabweans.

The migration of Zimbabweans to South Africa over the past two decades is driven by a combination of several political and socio-economic factors such as poverty, low wages, the inaccessibility of passports and human rights violations under the Zanu-PF regime.

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