- The cancellation of Zimbabwean Exemption Permits has been halted by the Department of Home Affairs
- The department has not given reasons for the change in the decision that was taken by the Cabinet in late November
- A hot debate has ensued on social media with some South Africans angered by the government's change of decision
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JOHANNESBURG - The South African government has reversed its decision to withdraw the directive to put an end to the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit.
The Cabinet decision to send approximately 200 000 Zimbabweans to their home was highly criticised because it posed a humanitarian crisis.
The Department of Home Affairs announced the change in decision that was made in late November on Monday, 13 December but gave no reason why the department has backtracked on the directive, according to Fin24.
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The South African government had planned to cancel the exemption permits on 31 December, however, Zimbabweans had been allowed to apply for other permits. If they failed to apply for new permits, then the South African government planned to deport them.
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Human rights organisations welcome the reversal
Head of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme at Lawyers for Human Rights, Sharon Ekambaram, says the department's reverasl decision has been welcomed but a discussion on how movement is managed in the region needs to happen to ensure that people's rights are not infringed upon, reports BusinessTech.
Ekambaram previously argued that the cancellation of the exemption permit would have resulted in schoolchildren being unable to register for school, workers' contracts not being renewed and banks denying people services, among other restrictions.
South Africans have opposing views about Zimbabwean exemption permits
Heading online, South Africans shared their thoughts about the government's reversal of the controversial permits. Here are a few of their comments:
"A lot of people don't know what they are talking about on this thread. What you fail to realise is that a lot of key persons in SA are foreign nationals. Economists, engineers, accountants, farmers, electricians, plumbers, builders. If you remove them, you will cripple this country."
"Probably people must understand that those ZEPs include study permits, business permits. It's not only work permits. Therefore probably out of 200k, 3/4 are business and study permits. What will then happen to those poor kids studying across the country??"
"South Africa can't keep taking on Zimbabwe problems. Every country's problems are solved by its citizens. I don't think the government realises the divide it is causing by simply walking on South African's concerns."
"Wasn't only going to cause a humanitarian crisis, but also an economic crisis. This they wouldn't tell you. Because it kind-of put SA in a weak and dependant position. But the truth remains. It would have had a negative multiplier effect on the economy."
"Zimbabweans with permits are NOT much of a problem. Our problem is ALL the illegal immigrants that causes havoc in our country with sorts of crimes and violence which causes so much corruption in this country."
South African will not renew exemption permits for Zimbabweans
Briefly News previously reported that the South African government has announced that the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) will be discontinued from 31 December, 2021.
Current holders of this permit in South Africa will have a 12-month grace period to apply for a different visa type.
If they do not gain a new visa within that period, they will be deported. This decision has left the 180 000 ZEP holders in South Africa anxious about their futures as many do not qualify for any of the other visa types offered, TimesLIVE reports.
Source: Briefly News