Operation Dudula takes to the streets over Zimbabwe permit extension

Operation Dudula members march outside the Pretoria High court on Monday. Image: Shonisani Tshikalange
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PRETORIA – Operation Dudula demonstrated outside the Pretoria high court on Monday, opposing the Zimbabwe exemption permit (ZEP) extension.

A section of Madiba Street was closed off as Dudula members sang and marched outside the high court.

Operation Dudula wants to join a court application by the Helen Suzman Foundation that seeks a review of the lawfulness of the decision by home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi to terminate the ZEP.

The foundation wants the high court in Pretoria to declare the decision by Motsoaledi to terminate the ZEP and grant a limited extension of 12 months unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

The application by the foundation is being opposed by the home affairs minister.

The foundation is still pursuing its legal challenge of the termination of the ZEP, despite Motsoaledi extending the permit until June.

Operation Dudula has applied to the court to join as a respondent in the application.


National deputy chairperson of Operation Dudula Dan Radebe said they are demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the extension of ZEPs.

“We are here to demonstrate our dissatisfaction with the extensions of ZEPs because the moment you extend it for another six months, it means you are saying to South Africans, they have become accustomed to poverty, so they can hold on for another six months, while these foreigners take South African jobs and things like that,” he said.

“We are here to demonstrate to the court that we are not happy with the extension of the ZEP, and this is not limited to the ZEP.

“Today is also about us applying to be part of the proceedings.”

Radebe said in the application they seek to have all ZEPs declared illegal “because they were never gazetted”.

“I don’t remember in parliament or any document where South Africans were consulted — somebody just woke up and decided to issue the Zimbabweans with exemptions,” he said.

The matter will be heard in April.

TimesLIVE reported in September that four out of five of the almost 1-million Zimbabweans who are officially outside the country live in SA.

SA is officially home to 773,246 of the 908,913 Zimbabwean nationals that make up the diaspora, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency. The data provides the first official estimate of the number of Zimbabweans living abroad after a census was carried out in April, said the agency’s director-general Taguma Mahonde.

The diaspora numbers may be “undercounted” and could be much bigger than the data released by ZimStat, said Tony Hawkins, an independent economist at the time.

Estimates by human rights groups indicate that up to a quarter of the population, or about 4-million people, left the country after more than two decades of economic crisis forced them to seek work outside their nation.

This comes after the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar which has led to food insecurity in the country.