SA Court declares termination of Zimbabwean Exemption Permit unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi
Spread the love

PRETORIA – The Minister of Home Affairs’ decision to terminate the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) program in South Africa has been deemed unlawful, unconstitutional, and invalid by a full bench of judges in the Pretoria High Court.

According to GroupUP, the court has directed the minister to reconsider the issue through a fair process that adheres to relevant laws.

During this reconsideration process, ZEP permits will remain valid for another 12 months until the end of June 2024, providing protection from arrest and deportation for permit holders.

The case was brought forward by the Helen Suzman Foundation and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa after the minister announced the end of the program in 2021. Despite granting extensions, the minister maintained that the 178,000 permit holders must either apply for other visas if eligible or return to Zimbabwe.

In their ruling, Judges Colleen Collis, Gcina Malindi, and Mandlenkosi Motha criticized the minister for not seeking representations from those affected before making the decision. The subsequent call for representations was deemed inadequate and lacking a genuine consultation process.

The judges highlighted the minister’s failure to assess the impact on ZEP holders and their children, as well as the absence of evidence regarding the consideration of current conditions in Zimbabwe. The decision was seen as procedurally unfair, irrational, and an unjustified limitation of rights.

The court’s order preserves the status quo until a fair process is completed and the minister makes a new decision. The minister has been instructed to pay the costs of the application.

Additionally, the judges granted an interdict requested by the Zimbabwean Immigration Federation, preventing any action against ZEP holders until the minister’s decision is reviewed.