The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa says they remain hopeful that the South African government might change its mind and extend the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).
Speaking on ‘This morning on Asakhe’, a CITE daily Twitter Spaces programme, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena said they remain hopeful the South African government might change its mind. Mabhena said:
“But if it does not happen it would not have happened and we encourage those that have properties in South Africa to avoid losing properties, in the event that you get deported or something happens that you take advantage of what the ambassador said that you register, indicate the property that you have, you take your property to Zimbabwe so that if by any chance you get arrested, you are not going to lose any property.
Mabhena also said they are hopeful that the Zimbabwean government will keep its promise in terms of ensuring that returning citizens will not be made to pay duty at the border
He said it is their view that the Zimbabwean government is not ready to welcome back ZEP holders because “our economy collapsed, and the people that are going back to Zimbabwe are not going to be getting any jobs to sustain themselves.”
Addressing the media in Pretoria last week, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi said the government wants to assist citizens who voluntarily wish to return home before the expiry of their permits on 30 June.
The permit holders are also pinning hopes on the South African High Court to rule in their favour after the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) challenged the non-renewal of the ZEPs.
The case will be heard in April.
Last year, Operation Dudula, an anti-immigrant group in South Africa, said the extension of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs) is an insult to South Africans.
The ZEPs had provided legal protection to some 180 000 Zimbabweans and allowed them to reside, work, and attend school there.
The initial grace period for ZEP holders was 12 months, ending in December 2022, during which they could apply for another kind of permit or leave the country.
In September last year, the South African Home Affairs Department announced that it had extended the validity of the ZEPs to the end of June 2023.
Only about 6 000 permit holders have applied to be moved to other permits.
The permits were first issued in 2010 under the Dispensation of Zimbabweans Project (ZDP).
The programme was renewed in 2014 as the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) before the ZEP was introduced in 2017.
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