Helen Suzman Foundation Friday moved in to assist over 200 000 Zimbabweans holding South African special permits called Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP) to continue living and working in South Africa.
This comes after South Africa announced that it was not going to extend the ZEPs saying current holders were being given 12 months to regularise their stay in the region’s most industrialised economy.
Zimbabweans this week escalated their push to force Pretoria to stop deportations.
The Helen Suzman Foundation which promotes liberal constitutional democracy and the rule of law told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that the foundation would be working with Zimbabwe Exemption Permit Holders Association (ZEPHA) in challenging Pretoria’s decision. Simba Chitando, the lawyer representing the permit holders, confirmed:
After Nicole Fritz, the head of Helen Suzman Foundation, got hold of us, we have agreed to work together in whatever way we can to challenge the decision by cabinet not to renew ZEP. The lawyers working on the matter, and the ZEPHA, are humbled by the support of the Helen Suzman Foundation.
Chitando said the foundation was one of the most important non-governmental institutions safeguarding human rights and the rule of law in South Africa.
Chitando has also defended the fight against the South African cabinet decision saying South Africa was exposing Zimbabwean immigrants to exploitation as long as their stay was not guaranteed.
He said Zimbabweans in the United States and Canada, for instance, had received the full benefit of migration laws in those jurisdictions and had thrived.
He accused South Africa of exploiting Zimbabweans through the special permits, which, he argued, were designed to “extract labour without rights”.
The first Zimbabwean special dispensation started in 2009 and was called the Dispensation for Zimbabwe Permit and it provided for the documentation of qualifying Zimbabweans for a five-year period.
In 2014, the dispensation was extended by three years and called the Zimbabwean Special Permit and the current ZEP was initiated in 2017 and comes to an end on December 31, 2021.
More: The Independent